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THIS account of the Lakhers was originally intended to be 
a brief record of those customs concerning which litigation 
most often arises, in order to facilitate an equitable decision 
of such disputes as the chiefs may be unable to settle. So 
interwoven with the whole life of the people, however, are all 
Lakher customs, that I soon realised that the record would 
be incomplete if confined to those points on which cases 
might arise, as without some knowledge of the daily life of 
the people, it is impossible to appreciate either their point of 
view or the practical effect of their customs. This book 
therefore has expanded beyond its original scope. I have, 
however, kept in view throughout the object with which I 
started, and have endeavoured to give a clear and detailed 
account of all customs which are likely to come before the 
courts. All those, I think, who have had the good fortune 
to serve in the Assam hills will agree as to the importance to 
an official of a thorough knowledge of the customs and 
languages of the tribes under his charge, and it is in the hope 
that it may be of some use both to the friendly and pictur- 
esque people with whom it deals and to those who have to 
control their destinies that this book has been written. I 
held charge of the Lushai Hills district in which the Lakher 
country is situated from February 1924 to April 1928. It 
was in 1924 that the hitherto independent Zeuhnang andSabeu 
villages lying between Assam and Burma were first brought 
under control, so I was fortunate enough to be able to observe 
the customs of those groups of the tribe while they were still 
practically untouched by foreign influences. 

I am deeply indebted to many Lakhers and Lusheis for 
much invaluable help while making my inquiries. Without 
the ungrudging assistance rendered me throughout by 
Chhali and Chhinga, the former a Lakher and the latter a 
Lushei interpreter, both of intelligence above the average 
and both keenly interested in their tribal customs, I could 



not possibly have completed this work. Others who 
willingly told me all they could, though they must at times 
have been sadly bored at what they doubtless felt were 
tedious inquiries one of the Savang chieflings going so far 
as to compose a couplet expressing their feelings on the 
subject, which they afterwards sang to me are Taiveu, chief 
of Savang; Eachi, chief of Chapi; Zahia, chief of Paitha; 
Deutha, chief of Vahia ; Tlaiko, chief of Tiahra ; Khangcheh, 
macha of Savang ; Sarong, macha of Saiko ; Khama, Lushei 
interpreter, and many other chiefs and elders from all the 
Lakher villages. I must not omit to mention the clerical 
work done for me by Saighninga, Saitowna, and Zialunga of 
the Aijal office and the typing done by Chhinga, the Aijal 
typist, and by Debendra Chisim, the Garo typist of the Tura 
office. To Dr. J. H. Hutton, C.I.E., I owe very many thanks 
indeed for much advice and assistance, and also for his intro- 
duction and notes. I am indebted to Sir George Grierson, 
K.C.I.E., for very kindly allowing me to reproduce his list 
of Lai words from Vol. 3, Part III, of The Linguistic Survey 
of India. To the Eev. F. W. Savidge, till a few years ago of 
Serkawn, near Lungleh, my thanks are due for allowing me 
to make free use of his Grammar and Dictionary of the 
Lakher language. Miss Hughes of the Welsh mission at 
Aijal kindly reduced the Lakher tunes to tonic solfa for me, 
for which I am most grateful, and to Rev. R. A. Lorrain of 
Saiko I am indebted for information on certain points. The 
plants given in the list in Appendix VII were all collected by 
my wife. For identifying most of these plant and for much 
help in drawing up the list I have to thank Mr. C. E. C. 
Fischer of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and for 
identifying a number of other specimens I am indebted to the 
Curator of the Herbarium at Sibpur Botanical Gardens. Of 
the illustrations, for the photographs I am indebted to my 
wife and to Miss Lorrain of Saiko, for the originals of the 
coloured plates to Miss Daria Haden and for the drawings to 
Miss Ruth Wood and Mr. W. B. Morrall of the School of 
Art at Exeter. 


August 1931. 


MB. PARRY'S monograph on the Lakhers is primarily im- 
portant as being a record of an Assam hill tribe taken before 
annexation and administration have had time to modify its 
primitive customs and mode of life, for the Lakhers have 
been independent and unadministered until the last few 
years, and generally detailed accounts of this kind are not 
obtained until a tribe have been administered for some time, 
and their customs and outlook have been modified in conse- 
quence, at any rate to the extent of causing them to conceal 
customs which they have discovered to engender disapproval 
on the part of strangers. But this account of the Lakhers is 
also extremely important as likely to throw light on the 
stratification of cultures in the Assam-Burma hills, since 
the features described are some of them typically Naga, and 
some typically Kuki, while others appear to belong to neither 
of these cultures. 

Externally and superficially the Lakhers appear to be a 
definitely Kuki tribe. Their language and material culture 
associate them with Lusheis and Chins. Their terms of 
relationship are rather Kuki than Naga, their weapons, 
including their ceremonial daos, are similarly Kuki. The 
dislike, which Mr. Parry records, on the part of a Lakher of 
using anyone's comb but his own is typically Kuki, not 
based, of course, on any scruple of squeamish cleanliness, 
but on considerations of magic and the location of the soul 
in the head or in the hair. The story of the theft of fire by 
a fly has several local parallels, but differs from most in the 
case of the Lakher in that the secret stolen was that of flint 
and steel, used by all Kuki tribes, instead of that of the fire- 
stick as in the Naga versions. As by the Kuki, in contra- 


distinction to the Naga, no bees are kept, and the absence 
of the morung as a separate building is essentially Kuki 
rather than Naga. It is true that Lushei tribes do build a 
zawlbuk for their unmarried men, and conversely the Sema 
Naga builds no bachelor's house as a rule, but the institution 
does not take among the Lushei the place it takes in Naga 
tribes, and its absence from among the Sema appears due to 
the same Kuki influence that has introduced a whole series 
of Kuki customs in connection with inheritance and the 
rights of chiefs. No doubt the zawlbuk among the Lushei 
represents the fortuitous survival or adoption of some non- 
Kuki customs, just as its occasional erection by Semas " in 
order to conform to ancient custom " indicates the dis- 
appearance under alien influence of a custom previously 
prevalent. The Lakher follows much the same practice as 
the Thado Kuki, young men choosing as a sleeping-place 
the house of any girl they admire. Like most Kukis and 
a few Nagas (e.g. the Tangkhul), the Lakher possesses the 
ordeal by water, or rather by diving, which is found from 
the Ganges to Siam, and is perhaps Mon in origin (see Notes 
on the Thadou Kukis, p. 68, ^. 4 ), but the fact that it is 
definitely unpopular may perhaps be taken to indicate that 
it belongs to an intrusive culture. However, there is so 
much, in any case, to associate the Lakher with his neigh- 
bours the Lushei and the Chins that it is unnecessary to 
labour the points of resemblance. 

There is much, however, to suggest that underneath his 
externally Kuki culture the Lakher is something of a Naga 
at heart. His attachment to his village site and to the 
graves of his ancestors is essentially Naga, as distinct from 
the migratory habits of Kuki tribes. His want of discipline, 
as contrasted with the Lushei, is again Naga, as contrasted 
with Kuki. It is true that the Sema Naga, taken by these 
two tests alone, would conform to the Kuki instead of to 
the Naga type, but, as already pointed out, the Sema has 
many very markedly Kuki features in his culture. Place- 
names, as by the Naga generally (the Sema largely excepted), 
are taken by the Lakher from natural features, instead of 
from the traditional sites of former villages. The Bongchhi, 


the sacred ficus, is obviously closely associated with the 
external souls of the village, and affords a close parallel to 
the Lhota mingethung. Doors made by cutting round 
openings in wood are characteristic of some branches of the 
Konyak tribe, though also perhaps of other Chin tribes 
besides the Lakhers. The warp-spacer of the Lakher loom 
is Kuki or Kachari, not Naga, but the use of the simple 
spool as a shuttle instead of a bamboo-covering sheath, 
with a hole for the exit of the weft, seems to be Naga rather 
than Kuki, and the grass rain-cloak is definitely Naga rather 
than Kuki, though found sporadically from Assam to the 
Nicobars and from Formosa to the Philippines. The absence 
of any institution corresponding to the Lushei tuai men 
who wear women's clothes and follow women's pursuits 
also suggests that the Malay element present in the Lushei 
may be weaker in the Lakher, while the use of conch-shell 
ornaments with patterns of circles and dots coloured in 
black is clearly a link with the Angami and with other 
Nagas, Konyak in particular, and one may note in passing 
that just such conch-shell ornaments identical with Naga 
types have been found in early Iron Age graves in Arcot in 
S. India, and have also been excavated at Mohenjo Daro, 
where pottery imitations of conch-shell ornaments have also 
been found, suggesting the baked-clay ornaments imitating 
conch-shell which the Nagas of Laruri make, or used to 
make, for their dead. Although the Lakher do not make 
the huge hollow wooden gongs, aptly described as " canoe 
drums," which are typical of so many Naga tribes, their 
tekaleu, a hollow wooden gong for scaring birds, is perhaps 
a survival of these, as also no doubt is the similar bird- 
scaring gong of the Kachha Nagas, while its real origin in a 
canoe may perhaps be traced to the " boat " made and used 
by a Kabui Naga village for its harvest festival, though the 
village is on the top of a hill and has never within traditional 
memory used or needed a real boat. 1 Mention of the Kachha 
Nagas reminds one that the Lakher rapaw, the due payable 
to a chief for cultivating his land, is the identical word used 

1 See The Ao Nagas, pp. 76 n. 1 , 79 n. 3 , 80 n. 8 , 208 n.. 


by the Kachha Nagas for the right to a payment, on each 
occasion that a person cultivates land which was originally 
cleared of virgin forest by the claimant of rapd or by the 
person from whom he inherited or purchased the claim, for 
the title to rapd is permanent and alienable among Kachha 
Nagas, even though a right to actual cultivation no longer 
exists and the land in question be now in the domain of 
another village. 

Very suggestive also of the Naga tribes are the clans 
Mihlong, Hnaihleu and Bonghia, descended respectively 
from the hornbills, the tiger's man friend and the python, 
which animals respectively they may not kill. The exact 
parallel seems only to be found as regards the hornbill 
among Nagas, but the feeling about tigers and pythons is 
very similar, e.g.^ in the Chang tribes, where the Chongpo 
Hawang clan claims close kinship to the tiger, and may not 
injure one without giving him warning and a chance to 
escape, while the python is an object of awe and more or 
less tabu to the whole tribe, except that in time of great 
scarcity a man with nothing to lose is sent out to kill one 
in the hope of restoring prosperity, an enterprise regarded 
as most hazardous and followed by a prolonged period of 
tabu on the killer. So, too, in the Angami tribe, if a tiger 
be killed the village observes a tabu " for the death of an 
elder brother," the tiger being regarded as a close collateral 
relative of mankind. 

These are, however, certain features of Lahker culture 
which seem to be definitely neither Kuki nor Naga, but in 
contrast to both. Thus the practice of reaping by pulling 
up the rice by the roots has probably no parallel in Assam. 
Most hill tribes use a reaping-knife, while others strip the 
ear by hand into the basket. Similarly the Lakher careless- 
ness about the after-birth at parturition is in contrast to 
prevailing practice, whether Naga or Kuki, while their ex- 
clusion of women from sacrifices on account of the possibility 
of their menstrual uncleanness is totally at variance with 
both Kuki and Naga sentiment, in which a very prominent 
and important place is always given to the wife of a man 
performing sacrificial ceremonies. Indeed a Naga widower 


would be unqualified to perform a feast of social status. 
Here again the Lakher differs from all the Naga and Kuki 
tribes in Assam in the almost total absence from his culture 
of these graded " Feasts of Merit," by which the individual 
celebrates and reinforces his prosperity and attempts to 
infect with it the whole of the community. Apparently only 
by the chiefly clan of one village are such series of feasts 
observed, their place being taken elsewhere by sacrifices to 
particular deities, which are obviously far more frequent 
and important than in Naga or Kuki tribes in general. 
Another point of divergence from the latter is also to be 
found in the weakness or absence of exogamy and in the 
strength of the traces which survive of a matrilineal system. 
These two are perhaps supplementary features indicating a 
comparatively recent amalgamation of a patrilineal with a 
matrilineal people, the result of which may have been to 
break down exogamy on both sides, and it is perhaps possible 
to see a trace of this process in the unusual practice of sending 
the bride-price by instalments, each of which is always 
refused until the next instalment appears, a formality which 
rather suggests the incorporation of strangers who can only 
get brides by an unfamiliar series of customary payments. 
This factor of recent amalgamation seems also indicated by 
the prohibition of marriage between half-brother and sister 
by the same father, whereas uterine relationship is no bar, 
a rule apparently quite at variance with anything like a 
matrilineal system. However that may be, the traces of a 
very recent matrilineal system are exceedingly strong. The 
maternal uncle receives a very substantial share of the bride- 
price, while a woman living with her husband nominates a 
sister to take her share of the bride-price of her daughter, 
thus effectively removing it from the control of her husband. 
The same survival probably accounts for the right of a 
divorced wife to retain her angkia, and perhaps for the 
absence of any prohibition on the marriage by a younger 
brother of his elder brother's widow, which most patrilineal 
Assam hill tribes prohibit, though the fact that the Lakher 
wife may address her husband's younger brother by his 
personal name, but not so his elder brother, suggests that 


the custom of levirate was once restricted to the younger 
brother by Lakhers also, unless it be that this familiarity 
had special reference to the rights of the younger brother 
during the husband's lifetime. The matrilineal system seems 
again operative in the convention by which a daughter's 
bride-price exceeds the normal rate of her father's clan if 
her mother be of a superior clan. But the most convincing 
survival of all is in the custom which reserves as the right 
of his sister or her son the duty or privilege of opening the 
vault of the buried chief for a new interment and taking as 
the fee therefor the articles of value interred with the late 
chief, so that these heirlooms are lost to the male and secured 
in the possession of the female line. 

These matrilineal survivals suggest at first sight Mon- 
Khmer associations, but, except perhaps for the locality in 
which the Lakhers are found, might equally well be Bodo 
and Bodo likewise is suggested quite as much as Naga by 
the existence of a tiger clan, such as those of the Kachari 
and the Garo, while the latter tribe, Mr. Parry points out, 
resembles the Lakhers in practising divination by the bullet- 
bow. The absence of the buffalo, moreover, also appears 
suggestive of Bodo rather than Mon-Khmer culture, but the 
line between these two is not at all clear, as there seems to be 
a good deal to connect the Manipuri, Kachari, Synteng and 
Ao Naga not only in physical characteristics, but also to 
some extent culturally, although the languages spoken by 
these four tribes belong to the Kuki, Bodo, Mon-Khmer and 
Naga families respectively. 1 The Lakher would seem to go 
further than any of these tribes in Assam in the importance 
they attach to the influence of sympathetic magic on the 
crop, as an instance of which may be quoted the aoh (tabu) 
which is observed in the case of any woman being delivered 
of a still-born child, for fear that such a birth may affect 
the paddy, causing the grain to fail to form in the husk. 
This point of view suggests a very intimate association in 
Lakher belief between human beings and the crop, but in 
head-hunting, so important to Nagas from a fertility point 

1 For the physical resemblances, see Dixon, The Khasi and the Racial 
History of Assam, *' Man in India,'* Vol. II, pp. 1-13. 


of view, as to the Wa, and probably aforetime to the Khasi, 
the Lakher seems, like the Kuki, to attach comparatively 
little importance to the fertility aspect and to be dominated 
by fear of the ghost. The two points of view are not neces- 
sarily contradictory, as the ghost must be distinguished 
from the soul or life-principle, and is so distinguished by 
most if not all Assam tribes. At the same time, the Lakher 
fear of the ghost and comparative indifference to the head 
as a giver of life agree with the Kuki point of view, in which 
head-hunting is probably a development, produced by con- 
tact or association with head-hunters, of the sacrifice of 
slaves to serve the dead in another world, and recalls the 
practice of the tribes north of the Brahmaputra from which 
direction, after all, the Bodo, Kuki and Kachin peoples have 
migrated southwards who do not take the head, but cut 
off the hands, probably to cripple the ghost. The Naga and 
Kuki, it may be noted, both cut off limbs as well, but it is 
the head which is the important member. 

It remains to indicate one or two points of contact further 
afield. Mr. Parry has himself noted a number of Fijian 
parallels to Lakher beliefs or customs, and other Indonesian 
and even Pacific resemblances occur to one in reading his 
manuscript. For instance, the red worn in the headgear by 
warriors suggests at once the Mandaya of Mindanao, who 
wear red trousers for a martial exploit, and are later awarded 
what one might term a full- as distinct from a half-red in 
the form of a red cap and coat for further prowess. The 
Lakher methods of fishing, both with traps and intoxicants, 
are to be found throughout Indonesia and, whether or not 
there is any cultural connection, northern South America. 
The word pana, too, for tabu, has an interesting extension. 
Obviously it is to be associated with the Naga words penna 
(Angami) and pini (Sema), and probably with the Caroline 
Islands penant and the Tabui panale, 1 since Evans has 
shown 2 that puni in Malay links up across the Pacific to 
New Zealand, actually appearing in the word tapbuni, 
always with the sense of segregation or tabu. But the 

1 Delinar, Religion des Marquisiens, p. 62. 

2 Kempunan, " Man,'* May 1920. 


resemblance of the Lakher word for rice wine, sahma, with 
the soma of the Vedas, we fear must be put down to the 
merest coincidence. 

The Lakhers then, to conclude, must be classed, at any 
rate in so far as their language and material culture are 
concerned, with the Kuki tribes who have migrated almost 
in historic times down the valley of the Chindwin from its 
sources to the Bay of Bengal, continuously throwing off 
branches of their race westward into the hills, while the 
vanguard, having turned north again up the same range, 
are still involved in a slow drift back again, like their own 
fabled river, which runs down to a rock in the ocean and 
thence flows upwards to its source. At the same time, the 
Lakhers include in their composition more perhaps than 
their immediate neighbours of the races that preceded them, 
of which the Indonesian race, everywhere submerged by the 
Mongolian flood, appears to have been one, while Bodo, 
Mon-Khmer and Melanesian elements seem to be definitely 
traceable. The pity is that Mr. Parry, who, in spite of 
having had to write under circumstances of considerable 
difficulty, has described them here in greater detail in many 
respects than that yet recorded of any other Assam tribe, 
is unable to return to give us yet more information of 
themselves and their neighbours. Howbeit, he has left no 
unworthy memorial of his sojourn among them. 








Habitat History Effects of British Rule The Mission 
Physical Characteristics Character Dress and Ornaments 
Weapons and Tools Stones Tattooing. 

DOMESTIC LIFE ........ 60 

The Village Its Site and Fortifications Houses Household 
Implements Daily Lifo Agriculture Food Drink To- 
bacco Trade Spinning and Weaving Dyeing Metal-work 
Fire Basket-work Bridges Pottery String Knots 
Woodwork Hide Gunpowder Hunting Traps Fishing 
Livestock Medicine Poisons Amusements Songs Musi- 
cal Instruments Dancing Games Measurements of Time, 
Length, Height, Width, Area, Capacity Counting Points of 
the Compass Currency War The la Ceremony Peace- 
making Cannibalism Captives Slavery. 

LAWS AND CUSTOMS ....... 229 

Tribal and Clan Organisation Pedigrees Relationship The 
Village Organisation and Functionaries The Chief, his Lands 
and Rights Dues and Subscriptions Hospitality Migration 
Trial of Cases Oaths Fines Murder Suicide-~Theft 
Assaults Eavesdropping Trespass IJelaliiation Mode's of 
Acquiring Livestock Debt Damage done by Animals 
Friends Position of Women The Bastard's Price Fornica- 
tion Sexual Offences Lunacy Inheritance Adoption 
Heirlooms Marriage Customs The Marriage Price Dowry 
Jilting Elopement Concubines Sata wreu Longtang 
Divorce Adultery. 

RELIGION ......... 349 

God Spirits The Soul Ana Pana Aoh The Anahmang 
The Pharaw Sacrifices Feasts Birth Ceremonies Names 
Death Ceremonies Graves and Memorials The Death Due 
Crop Sacrifices Rain Ceremonies Ceremonies Connected 
with Sickness Miscellaneous Beliefs Beliefs about Animals 
Dreams Divination Natural Phenomena. 









LIST OF CLANS. ........ 579 






INDEX ......... 614 



Facing Page 

A SABEU GIRL (Colour) .... frontispiece 


LAKHER GIRLS ........ 28 




MAKING A PIPE BOWL ....... 38 

LAKHER CLOTHS ........ 38 


Two WARRIORS OF CHAPI ...... 45 

SAVANG VILLAGE ........ 60 


IN SAVANG ........ 60 




THE KOLODYNE RIVER . . . . ... . 128 

DOCHHA OF CHAPI IN WAR DRESS (Colour) . . . 205 


HOUSE AT CHAPI ....... 214 


CHIEF'S HOUSE AT CHAPI . . . . .214 
LAKHER CHIEFS . . . . . . . .231 


TAIVEU CHIEF OF SAVANG (Colour) ..... 249 








OBNAMENTS, ETC. ........ 43 

WEAPONS ......... 47 





BASKETS . . . . . . . . .115 

BASKETS . . . . . . . . .119 

KNOTS 132 







DEEB TBAP. SABI . . . . . . .150 


BAT TBAP. CHALONG . . . . . . .151 


RAT TBAP. VIAKHANG . . . . . . .153 


BIBD TBAP. APHEU ....... 155 



MEMOBIAL POST . . . . . . . .416 



MAP 1 



THE Lakhers, or, to be more correct, the Maras, Lakher being 
merely the name by which they are known to the Lusheis, 
inhabit the south-eastern corner of the Lushai Hills district, 
south of the Haka sub-division of the Chin Hills, and the 
extreme north of the Arakan Hill Tracts. Most of the 
villages are enclosed in the large bend made by the Kolodyne 
river, which, after rising in the hills near Haka and flowing 
in a southerly direction, takes a sharp turn, and flows 
northwards till somewhat north of Muallianpui village, when 
it again turns south and flows down to the Bay of Bengal at 
Akyab. There are a few Mara villages situated west of the 
Kolodyne, between that river and Lungleh, and some 
powerful villages of the Sabeu tribe of Maras on the east 
of the upper Kolodyne or Beinong in the Haka sub-division 
of the Chin Hills. This work deals more particularly with 
the Lakhers in the Lushai Hills district, though actually the 
Haka Lakher villages of Ngiaphia, Khihlong, Heima and 
Lialai and their subordinate villages are ruled over by 
Changza chiefs, and their customs are the same as those 
followed in Cahpi. The following are the principal Mara 
tribal groups : Tlongsai, Hawthai, Zeuhnang, Sabeu, Lialai, 

On the west the Maras are bordered by Fanais and Lusheis, 
on the east and north by Chins, and on the south by the 
tribes of the Arakan Hill Tracts, Khumis, Matus and 
Khyengs. The Maras are a branch of the Lai tribe of Chins, 
and speak a language closely akin to Lai. They are the 


same people as the Shendus to whom Colonel Lewin makes 
constant references in his various works, and are still called 
Shendus by the Arakanese. Tradition says that the Maras 
came from the north, and it is certain that they all came to 
their present homes from different places in the Haka sub- 
division of the Chin Hills, presumably being pushed forward 
by pressure from the east, in the same way as the Lusheis 
under their Thangur chiefs were pushed forward into the 
country they now occupy. The progress of the migration 
to their present territory can be traced fairly accurately. 
The Saiko and Siaha people are both Tlongsai, and say that 
they originated at a place called Leisai between Leitak and 
Zaphai. From Leisai they moved to Saro, and thence to 
Chakang, both of which places are in Haka. From Chakang 
they crossed the Kolodyne and came into the Lushai Hills, 
and settled first at Phusa, on a high hill between Ainak and 
Siata ; thence they moved to Khupi on the Tisi river, thence 
to Theiri, and thence to Beukhi. At Beukhi the Siaha and 
Saiko Tlongsais separated, the former occupying various 
sites in the neighbourhood of Beukhi, ending up at their 
present site of Siaha, while the latter moved successively to 
Saikowkhitlang, Khangchetla, Zongbukhi, Chholong and 
Khihlong, eventually settling at Saiko about fifty or sixty 
years ago. From Saiko they have formed the other villages 
of the Tlongsai group ruled over by Hleuchang chiefs. 
From the number of village sites they have occupied since 
coming to the Lushai Hills, it is certain that they must have 
been settled in the Lushai Hills district between 200 and 
300 years. 

The Hawthai clan, whose main village is Tisi, originated, 
they say, at a place called Chira in Haka, whence they came 
via Saro, Siata, Paimi and Nangotla to Tisi, where they have 
now been for thirty years. They are therefore more recent 
immigrants than the Tlongsai. Nangotla, Chholong, and 
Longbong, or, as the Lusheis call them Ngiawtlang, Chuar- 
lung, and Lungbun, are Hawthai villages, as are also the 
two villages of old and new Longchei in Haka. The Zeuh- 
nang, who are the people of Savang, originated at Hnarang 
in Haka, whence they crossed the Kolodyne and settled on 


a high range called Kahri Tla. They moved in succession 
to Hlongma near Sehmung and Cheuong on the banks of 
the Tisi river, and then settled on their present site of 
Savang, where they have now been established for about 
130 years. 

The Sab, who are the people of Chapi, originated at 
Thlatla in Haka. One of their chiefs, Mahli, married a 
Lakher woman, and from that time the royal house has 
regarded itself as Lakher. This Mahli moved from Thlatla 
to Ngiaphia, whence his branch of the Sabeus moved in 
succession to Pazo, Khothlaw, Chorihlo, Chawkhu, Fachaw 
(near the junction of the Satlong river with the Kolodyne), 
Khiraw, Ravaw, Tichei, Pasei, Pemai, Sacho, Loma and 
thence to their present site called Tichhang, where they 
have now been settled for twenty years. The reason given 
for the frequent moves of site is that they were afraid of 
being raided. 

The Sabeu, whose villages are in Haka, are of the same 
group as the Sabeu of Chapi. Their head chief, Vasai, is a 
Changza, and a cousin of Rachi, Chief of Chapi, and his 
village, Khihlong, is only about thirteen miles from Chapi 
along the top of the Kahri range. 

The inhabitants of Heima and Lialai in the Arakan Hill 
Tracts belong to the Heima and Lialai groups, which are 
very closely allied to the Sabeu. The chiefs of both villages 
are Changzas, and they have been always more or less vassals 
of the Changza chiefs of Khihlong. 

In addition to the purely Lakher villages, there are 
certain villages in Haka and also in the Lushai Hills the 
inhabitants of which are half-way between the Pois and the 
Lakhers, and it is difficult to say exactly what they are. 
Such villages are Hnarang or Ngaring in Haka and lana, 
and Siata in the Lushai Hills ; with lana must also be 
classed the Haka villages Mangtu, Khabong and Zeuphia, 
known in Lushai as Vuangtu, Khawbung and Zaphai. The 
customs followed in these villages are partly Lakher and 
partly Poi. The lana group are on the whole more Lakher 
than Poi, both in language and customs, and regard them- 
selves as Lakhers. Hnarang is more Poi than Lakher, and 


calls itself Poi, but Pois regard the Hnarang people as Lak- 
hers, though their language is Poi. These villages on the 
border line between Pois and Lakhers show how the Lakhers 
gradually formed themselves into a separate tribe after they 
broke off from Thlatla and their other original homes in the 
Chin Hills. 

The story of the origin of the Mara tribe as handed down 
by tradition is as follows : Long ago, before the great dark- 
ness called Khazanghra fell upon the world, men all came out 
of a hole below the earth. As the founder of each Mara 
group came out of the earth he called out his name. Tlongsai 
called out, " I am Tlongsai " ; Zeuhnang called out, " I am 
Zeuhnang " ; Hawthai called out, " I am Hawthai " ; Sabeu 
called out, " I am Sabeu " ; Heima called out, " I am 
Heima." Accordingly God thought that a very large 
number of Maras had come out and stopped the way. When 
the Lusheis came out of the hole, however, only the first 
one to come out called out, " I am Lushei," and all the rest 
came out silently. God, only hearing one man announce 
his arrival, thought that only one Lushei had come out, and 
gave them a much longer time, during which Lusheis were 
pouring out of the hole silently in great numbers. It is for 
this reason that Lusheis to this day are more numerous 
than Maras. After all men had come out of the hole in the 
earth God made their languages different,^ and they remain 
so to this day. 

A similar story is current among the Khyeng. 1 

The number of Lakhers in Assam at the last census was 
returned at 3683, 2 as against 3647 in 1911. As there must 
be very nearly as many again in the Chin Hills, and as at 
the time of the last census the areas recently taken over by 
Assam and Burma were not included, as they were still uii- 
administered, I estimate that the total number of the tribe 
is now somewhere about 10,000 souls. 

The country, though high, is fertile, and though the 
neighbouring Chins live on maize and millet, the Lakhers' 
staple food is rice. On the lower slopes bamboo jungle 

1 Cf. Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, p. 238. N. E. P. 
Lloyil, Census of India 1921. Assam, Part II. N. E. P. 


prevails ; the higher hills are clothed with oaks, rhododen- 
drons and dwarf bamboos (Arundinaria falcata), known as 
lik to the Lushei and seuli to the Lakhers, which make 
excellent fishing-rods. There is also a thorned bamboo 
(Arundinaria callosa), called by the Lakhers aphaw, which 
is found at slightly lower elevations. On the lower slopes 
all the ordinary bamboos found in the Lushai Hills flourish. 
The main range running between Savang and Chapi is the 
Ka Hri Tla, whose highest points are Ka Hri or Khashia 
Klang, 6292 ft., and Tliatlu or Mizen Tlang, 6368 ft., while 
further north, on the edge of the Lakher country, lies Pheupi 
or the Blue Mountain, 7101 ft., the highest peak in the 
Lushai Hills district. The climate in the cold weather is 
perfect, in the rains it has the drawbacks common to all 
places in South-east India with a heavy rainfall, the worst 
being leeches, insects and damp. 

Early Relations with British. 

For many years the Lakhers seem to have been a thorn 
in the side of the authorities in Chittagong and Arakan, and 
were regarded as a powerful and warlike nation. When 
first they came into contact with the British they were 
known as Shcndus, a term which seems to have covered all 
the Haka Chin tribes and not only the Lakhers. It cer- 
tainly covered the Klangklangs, who are known to the 
Lakhers as Thlatlas, and also other Chin tribes such as 
Hakas, 1 though as a matter of fact the Lakhers are now 
quite separate from both, and speak a different tongue, 
though some of them originally broke off from Thlatla. 

Writing in 1841, Lieutenant Phayre 2 refers to the Tsein- 
dus, and gives a list of thirteen Tseindu clans, some of which 
can be identified with Mara clans, though others appear to 
be Poi. The Lungkhes referred to by him are, I think, 
probably a branch of Lakhers who had a village at Liazeu, 
on the western slopes of the Mephrutong Hill, which has 

1 Vide Carey and Tuck, The Chin Hills, p. 4 and p. 16 n. 2 

2 " Account of Arakan," by Lieutenant Phayre, Senior , 

-N. E. P. 
Assistant Com- 
missioner, Arakan, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, No. 117, 1841. 

N. E. P. 


now disappeared. Their chief, Leng-kung, was a Poi, who 
is known to the Lakhers as Laikong. Chiefs of this family 
still rule at Longtlai, Bungtlang and Sangao. The greater 
part of Laikong's villagers are said to have been Lakhers, 
the rest being Pois. This shows that the term Shendu 
covered Poi as well as purely Lakher tribes. Lewin l 
identifies some people called Lankhe by the Burmese with 
the Lushais. It seems more probable, however, that they 
are the same people as Phayre's Lungkhe, and closely 
related to the Lakhers. In " A Note on some Hill Tribes 
on the Kuladyne River," written in 1846, 2 Lieutenant 
Latter says, " The most powerful among them are the 
Shentoos, who, being beyond our frontier, are known to us 
only by their devastations on those tribes which pay us 
tribute ; the suddenness, secrecy and never-failing nature of 
these attacks cause them to be held by the rest in a dread 
of which it would be impossible to give an idea. The Khons, 
who are likewise beyond our frontier, are employed by the 
Shentoos as guides and spies, and are on that account 
obnoxious to the vengeance of those clans who may owe a 
blood feud to the Shentoos." 

The first account of the Lakhers as a separate tribe seems 
to have been written in 1852 : the writer, Captain Tickcll, 3 
says, " And amongst these, the Shendoos, though well known 
by name and repute in Arracan, have never yet been visited 
by the people of the plains, nor has a single specimen of this 
race been seen, I believe, by either Mugh or European in 
Arracan until 1850, when two emissaries or spies from them 
met me at a hill village some distance up the Kolodyne 
river." Captain Tickell refers to the tribe as Heuma or 
Shendoos. Heima is the name of a Lakher village in North 
Arakan known to the Lusheis as Vaki. 

Writing in 1875, Fryer says, 4 " The Khyengs call them- 

1 T. H. Lewin, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong and the Dwellers Therein, 
p. 98. N. E. P. 

8 Lieutenant T. Latter, " A Note on some Hill Tribes on the Kuladyno 
River, Arracan," J.A.S.B., 1846, No. 169. N. E. P. 

8 Captain S. R. Tickell, " Notes on the Heuma or Shendoos," J.A.S.B. 
No. Ill, 1852. N. E. P. 

* G. E. Fryer, " On the Khyeng People of Sandoway Arakan," J.A.S.B., 
1875, Part I. N. E. P. 


selves Hiou or Shou, and state that the Shindoos, Khumis 
and Lungkhes are members of the same race as themselves. 
They have a tradition that they came down many years ago 
from the sources of the Kyendweng river." The Lakhers 
have no traditions about the Kyendweng river, but they 
undoubtedly are related to the Khumis and other Arakan 
hill tribes, and also to the Haka Chins. 

Mackenzie, writing in 1884, says, 1 " The Shindus are a 
formidable nation living to the north-east and east of the 
Blue Mountain. All the country south of the Karnafuli 
has for many years been exposed to their ravages. Of their 
position and internal relations we know much less than we 
do of the Lushais. The whole aim of our frontier policy has 
of late years been the protection of the other tribes already 
named from the raids of the Chittagong Lushais and Shindus. 
The whole history of this frontier is, indeed, the story of 
their outrages and of the efforts to prevent, repel or avenge 
these." The Shindus or Lakhers, as we now call them, 
seem in fact to have been most assiduous raiders, and though 
the misdeeds of other tribes were doubtless not infrequently 
fathered upon them as the most redoubtable of the hill 
tribes, they seem to have well earned their reputation as 
harriers of the countryside. That it was, however, often a 
case of giving a dog a bad name and hanging him, is shown 
by para. 8 of Captain Hopkinson's letter No. 40 to the 
secretary to the Government of Bengal, dated 7th May, 
1856. 2 The first Lakher raid that we know of is on a Khumi 
village called Hlengkreing, when thirty to forty people were 
killed and thirty-eight women and children carried into 
slavery. 3 This was in 1838. A Shendu foray on Chittagong 
was reported in 1847, when they raided the subjects of 
Kalindi Rani and of the Phru, who is now known as the 
Bohmong. 4 Lewin 5 states that the reason why the Shendus 
were at enmity with the Poang, who is the same person as 

1 Mackenzie, The North-East Frontier of Bengal, p. 331. N. E. P. 

2 Mackenzie, op. cit., p. 532. N. E. P. 

3 Phayre, "Account of Arakan," J.A.S.B., 1841, No. 117, p. 708. 
N. E. P. 

4 Mackenzie, North-east Frontier of Bengal, p. 335. N. E. P. 

6 Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, p. 300. N. E. P. 


the Phru or Bohmong, was that a Shendu chief sent an 
embassy to the Poang consisting of six men, bearing ivory 
and home-spun cloths. Of these men, five were murdered 
by the Poang's orders, and the man who escaped was 
murdered by Yuong on his way home. Colonel Shakespear 
gives a similar story, from which it appears that the Shendus 
in question were Tlongsais. 1 If Lakhers on a friendly 
embassy were murdered in this way, it is not to be wondered 
at if they avenged themselves by raiding their assailants. 
From 1847 onwards Lakher raids on the Chittagong Hill 
Tracts seem to have been of constant occurrence. In 1854, 
in a report by the Superintendent of Police, it is stated that 
during the preceding seventeen years there had been 
nineteen raids, in which 107 persons had been slain, fifteen 
wounded and 186 carried captive. All these forays were 
believed to be the work of Shendus or tribes from the south. 2 
In 1865 it was reported that Shendus and other tribes 
regularly spent November to May every year in raiding the 
Ghittagong Hill Tracts, and in 1866 the Shendus attacked 
a Mrung village only half a day's journey from Chima, the 
furthest outpost. 3 It is about this time that Lewin, 4 who 
really laid the foundations of British rule in the Lushai 
Hills, and who was the first Englishman to establish intimate 
relations with the hill tribes in this part of the world, appears 
on the scene. Lewin's adventures in the "Chittagong Hill 
Tracts and the Lushai Hills are described in his books, Wild 
Races of South-eastern India, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong 
and the Dwellers Therein, and The Fly on the Wheel, and it 
is impossible to go into them here ; he was, however, un- 
doubtedly the first Englishman to get into touch with the 
Zeuhnang, the Khenung, 5 who sent his son Aylong to visit 
Lewin and take him to their village, being the then Chief 
of Savang, as is clear from the Savang chief's pedigree. 
Meanwhile the Shendus continued to give the Chittagong 
and Arakan authorities much food for thought, and it is 

1 Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 213. N. E. P. 

2 Mackenzie, North-east Frontier of Bengal, p. 338. N. E. P. 

3 Mackenzie, op cit., p. 349. N.E.P. 

4 Mackenzie, op cit., p. 349. N. E. P. 

6 Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, p. 321. N. E. P. 


amusing to see how the Bengal and Burma Governments 
each tried to foist on to the other the responsibility of 
controlling them. 1 Bengal and Burma were equally ignorant 
about the Shendus, and owing to the difficulties of dealing 
with them, both provinces would have been glad to be rid 
of them. Colonel Phayre in a letter to the Government of 
India wrote : 2 

" I have known all the tribes personally except the Shendus 
for many years. The Shendu tribe has always been spoken 
of as powerful, and as being much feared. . . . The Shendu 
tribe appears to be more numerous as a people than any 
other Indo-Chinese hill race which I know. It extends over 
a large tract of country. The clans are independent of each 
other as long as they have power to maintain independence. 
Their predatory expeditions appear to be organised, as 
indeed they frequently are among the Kumeis and Khyengs, 
by persons of influence, whether chiefs or not, who collect 
individuals among several clans into a war party." 

The respect with which the Shendus were regarded must 
have been due mainly to lack of knowledge. Though un- 
doubtedly a very warlike tribe, they were nothing like as 
numerous as the Lusheis. The chief difficulty with the 
Shendus seems to have been the impossibility of getting 
into touch with them. In 1871-72 the Shendus attacked 
the Pyndoo outpost, but were driven off, 3 and in 1874-75 
they made an attempt at a raid, which was frustrated. 4 In 
1869 the first Lushai Expedition took place, 5 and in 1871 
two columns entered the hills, one from Cachar and the other 
from Chittagong. These expeditions dealt with the Lusheis, 
but left the Lakhers untouched. 6 For ten years after this 
both Shendus and Lusheis remained comparatively quiet. 
In 1888, however, a raiding party of Shendus under Hausata 

1 Mackenzie, North-east Frontier of Bengal, pp. 349, 350, 486, 489, para. 7, 
532, para. 7. N. E. P. 

2 Mackenzie, op cit., p. 351. N. E. P. 

3 Mackenzie, op cit., p. 362. N. E. P. 

4 Mackenzie, op cit., p. 365. N. E. P. 

5 Mackenzie, op cit., p. 302. N. E. P. 

6 See Mackenzie, op cit., p. 312 et scq. ; also for a description of the 
work done by the Chittagong column, T. H. Lewin, The Fly on the Wheel, 
p. 255 et seq.N. E. P. 


murdered Lieutenant John Stewart of the Leinster Regiment, 
who was engaged in survey work with a small escort of 
Gurkhas. 1 As a matter of fact, these raiders, though re- 
ferred to as Shendus, were not Lakhers. Hausata was a 
Thlatla Chin, and a brother of the equally evil Vantura, 
whose death after a raid on the Lakher village of Saiko will 
be related further on. This outrage was the immediate 
cause of the Chin-Lushai Expedition of 1888-89, which 
resulted in the occupation of the Chin and the Lushai hills. 2 
All three brothers concerned in the murder of Lieutenant 
Stewart came to bad ends. Hausata died within a year, 
and his body was eaten by the village pigs, after Stewart's 
gun, which had been buried with him, had been recovered ; 
Vantura died of wounds received on a raid on the Lakher 
village of Saiko ; Dokula died in the Andamans, whither he 
had been sent for the murder of a fakir. Dokula had 
previously escaped the hanging to which he had been 
sentenced for murdering two Lakhers of Boite village, and 
though sentenced to death a second time for the murder of 
the Fakir, was again lucky enough to have his sentence 
commuted. 3 Dokula's descendants still rule in their villages, 
and are men of like character to their father and their 
uncles. The Lakhers still fear and hate them, and were 
we ever to withdraw from the hills, war would surely break 
out again between the Lakhers and the Poi villages ruled 
over by Dokula's descendants. It was as a result of the 
expedition of 1888-89 that some of the Lakher villages were 
first brought under British rule. In 1891 Captain Shake- 
spear visited Saiko and interviewed the Chief Theulai, whose 
brother laka had been responsible for a raid on Prenkyne's 
village. Compensation was assessed on the villages of Siaha 
and Saiko, and certain captives taken by the Ramri people 

1 Vide Carey and Tuck, The Chin Hills, p. 13, R. H. Sneyd Hutchinson, 
An Account of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, p. 25, and A. S. Reid, Chin Lushai 
Land, pp. 38-43.N. E. P. 

8 For a description of these operations so far as they related to the 
Lushai Hills, see Lt.-Col. J. Shakespear, " Lushai Reminiscences," in the 
Assam Review, Vols. I and II. For the Chin Hills, see Carey and Tuck, 
The Chin Hills, Vol. I, p. 12 et seq. Also Reid, Chin Lushai Land, passim, 
for both expeditions. N. E. P. 

* See Lt.-Col. J. Shakespear, " Lushai Reminiscences," the Assam Review, 
Vol. II, No. 2, April 1929. N. E. P. 


from North Arakan were released. On another occasion 
when Captain Shakespear came to Siaha and was said to 
be coming on to Saiko, Theulai himself must have had an 
uneasy conscience, as he had recently led a raid against the 
Lakher village of Lialai and taken the head of its chief, 
Thaka. I was told at Saiko that while Captain Shakespear 
was at Siaha, the Saiko people were busy holding the la 
ceremony over the heads that had been taken at Lialai, and 
the news of his approach made them break off the festivities 
and hide all traces of their very questionable doings. After 
all, however, he did not come, and the Tlongsai might as 
well have finished the la festivities, which as it turned out 
were the last to be held in Saiko. 

From this time on Saiko, Siaha and the other Tlongsai 
villages formed part of the South Lushai Hills, and Theulai, 
the chief of Saiko, who had previously been concerned in 
many raids, became an excellent chief. There still remained 
unadministered, however, a tract of country between the 
Lushai Hills, the Chin Hills and Arakan, containing the 
Zeuhnang, Sabeu and Lialai groups with certain villages 
dependent on them, which was to give trouble for some time 
to come. These villages, especially Savang, used to jhum 
beyond their boundaries in administered territory belonging 
to other chiefs, which was always giving rise to disputes. 
In consequence of these encroachments, Mr. Whaley, the 
Sub-Divisional Officer, of Lungleh, marched through the un- 
administered tract and came to an unofficial agreement with 
Beihra, Chief of Khihlong, but for practical purposes the 
area was left as it was. In 1906 the Zeuhnang raided a 
British village called Paitha and carried off some runaway 
slaves, one of whom they killed. An expedition was pre- 
pared, but before it was ready to start the captives were 
released and operations postponed till 1907. In 1907 
Colonel Cole and Colonel Loch took a column to Savang 
and fined the Zeuhnang twenty guns for their raid on 
Paitha in 1906. Thence they went on to Laki, and met the 
Deputy Commissioner, North Arakan. After this no officials 
visited the area till 1918. In 1917 and 1918, as a result of 
the Haka rebellion, which itself was a repercussion of the 


Great War, the whole area was in a ferment. In 1917 the 
Zeuhnang had raided the Arakan Lakher village of Teubu, 
had taken heads and made captives. In retaliation for this, 
the Lialais, who were friends of Teubu, raided the small 
Zeuhnang hamlet of Mangtu, below Laki and above the 
Tinglo river, killed the chief, Huatmanga, and four others 
and seized nine captives for slaves. The Zeuhnang village 
of Laikei had seized a girl from the British village of Kiasi, 
while Chapi had raided the British village of Longchei and 
carried off some women as slaves. As a result of these 
forays a column was taken through the independent villages 
by the Superintendent of the Lushai Hills, and Chapi and 
Laikei were punished. 1 The Zeuhnang and the Lialai were 
dealt with by Arakan. In 1920, 1922 and 1924 the Super- 
intendent of the Lushai Hills again toured the villages, and 
in 1922 a meeting was held at Baw between the Super- 
intendent of the Lushai Hills and the Deputy Commissioners 
of the Chin Hills and the North Arakan Hill Tracts, at which 
the boundaries between the three districts were laid down 
and the villages in the independent area were divided among 
them. From 1924 the villages which fell to the Lushai 
Hills have been loosely administered as part of the district, 
the system of administration being the same in all essentials 
as that followed in the rest of the district. The villages 
which fell to the Chin Hills and North Abakan are being 
absorbed in the same way into those districts.* 

Effects of British Rule. 

It is only since 1924, therefore, that all the Lakhers have 
been under British rule. The Zeuhnang and Sabeu have 
taken to British rule on the whole quite kindly. Though 
they naturally regret their former freedom in many ways, 
as is shown in their songs, and as they tell one themselves, 
still they admit that British rule has brought certain ad- 
vantages in its train. Taiveu of Savang, one of the chiefs 
whom I was questioning on this matter, told me that the 
benefits his people had obtained from British rule were three 

1 Vide letter No. 1678 of 26th February, 1918, from Superintendent 
Lushai Hills to the Commissioner Surma Valley and Hill Division. N, E. P. 


namely, that they can sleep at night without sentries and 
without fear of a raid, that they can travel wherever they 
like without let or hindrance and without fear of an ambush, 
and that they can have beer-parties without posting sentries 
and without the fear at the back of their minds that they 
may be raided and cut up while intoxicated. British rule 
therefore has removed fear, implanted a sense of security 
and enabled the people to make the most of their simple 
pleasures. They can now make themselves gloriously drunk 
without fear of advantage being taken of their temporary 
incapacity. These are undoubted and solid gains, which the 
tribes could never have acquired for themselves. So far, in 
the new area at any rate, there is no sign of the deterioration 
which so often supervenes when savages are brought into 
contact with a superior culture, and the population shows 
no signs at all of decreasing. In dealing with the new area, 
all customs, save a very few that could not be countenanced, 
have been meticulously respected, and the greatest of care 
has been taken to avoid in any way lowering the position 
of the chief. One inevitable change has, however, taken 
place, which undoubtedly has diminished the chief's wealth 
and importance namely, the liberation of the chief's depen- 
dants. As soon as the area was taken over, numbers of 
these dependants came forward to pay the forty-rupee 
ransom which frees them from their obligations to the chief. 
I purposely refrain from calling these people slaves, and 
.though further on I shall deal with the institution of slavery 
among the Lakhers in detail, the term slavery is a complete 
misnomer to-day, whatever it may have been in the past. 
In any case, the exodus of numerous dependants from the 
chiefs' houses naturally reduced the wealth of the chiefs* 
Some of the freedmen remained in the village, but many 
migrated elsewhere, fearing that the chief would revenge 
himself on them for having ransomed themselves from him. 
This was an undesirable development, in that it removed 
people from their old surroundings ; on the other hand, it 
was both natural and inevitable that many of the freedmen 
should wish to migrate, and it was impossible to do anything 
to stop it. A certain number of them returned after a short 


time to their old villages and settled down again quite 

Another noticeable sequel to the advent of British rule 
was the eagerness with which the people in the new area 
came forward to sell their surplus rice to the Tuipang guard 
in order to make a little money. Until these villages were 
taken over, they knew practically nothing about money ; 
when, however, they found that they had to pay house tax, 
they realised that they had to set about and obtain money 
somehow. British rule therefore has led inevitably to a 
diminution in the importance of the chiefs and a desire to 
acquire wealth. I cannot pretend that I consider either 
development desirable, but neither could have been avoided. 
As compared with the people in the villages which for years 
have been under British rule, the people of the new area, 
especially the Zeuhnang, are more hard-working and 
energetic. Why this should be, 1 cannot say, but they 
have much larger jhums, and get heavier crops of rice. So 
far, except in the two instances mentioned above, these 
people have been hardly touched by modern influences. 
Isolated from the rest of the district till 1924, they have 
retained their old customs intact. On the other villages, 
which have been under British rule for years, Government 
and mission influences have necessarily had more effect, by 
no means with entirely good results. Litigation is excessive, 
the chiefs are less powerful and the people less* well controlled 
than in the new area. In Saiko the combined influence of 
the mission and of Lushei interpreters has modified custom. 
The Lushei interpreters have given a Lushei tinge to certain 
customs, which have changed, not because officers intended 
to change them, but because they failed to realise that 
changes were being made. When a primitive people come 
under settled rule certain changes are inevitable, but the 
importance of altering as little as possible cannot be exag- 
gerated. If the customs of a primitive race are allowed to 
decay or are suddenly replaced by alien customs, the race 
degenerates. All these tribes have been taken over against 
their will and solely in the interest of their more advanced 
neighbours, and to stop them from raiding in the plains 


Like the other primitive tribes of the Assam Hills, Garos, 
Lusheis, Nagas and others, the Lakhers were not assenting 
parties to the change in their political status. They were 
not brought under British rule in their own interest ; in fact, 
whether they liked being taken over and whether it was in 
their interest to be taken over or not were never considered 
at all. The only motive actuating Government was the 
peace of the settled areas adjoining these primitive tribes. 
In view of this, therefore, a very special responsibility for 
their welfare falls upon Government. 

Two articles in The Times of the 23rd and 24th July, 1929, 
dealing with conditions in that part of New Guinea which 
was formerly owned by Germany but for which Australia 
now holds a mandate, are of great interest as showing the 
multifarious forces which impinge upon a primitive people 
when first they come into contact with a higher civilisation, 
and the extent to which primitive people lose all interest in 
existence when forced too rapidly to alter their ways of life. 
The following passages, which have been reproduced by kind 
permission of The Times Publishing Company, illustrate 
these facts well : 

" In administering the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, 
Australia is discharging in a special sense the responsibility 
which the covenant of the League of Nations describes as 
* a sacred trust of civilisation.' There is no more tragic 
example of the exploitation of primitive races by white men 
than the ravaging of the islands of the Pacific. The earliest 
white settlers were escaped convicts, deserting sailors, 
fugitives from justice, and others of the lowest character. 
The first ships brought sandalwood hunters ; the next 
slavers, the so-called ' black-birders/ who carried off 
thousands of ' boys ' to work in South America and Queens- 
land. In their train the white men brought disease, which 
swept through the insanitary native villages, and between 
1860 and 1890, it is estimated, destroyed 75 per cent, of the 
population of the Pacific. 

" Even then the tribulations of the New Guinea islanders 
had not ended. The pitiable relic of a once happy and 
numerous race had to suffer the shocks of collision with 


traders and planters, officials and missionaries, with widely 
differing standards of morality and widely differing creeds. 
Some planters and traders treated the native decently, but 
the majority exploited them mercilessly. Roman Catholic 
missionaries encouraged native dances, forbade divorce and 
accepted no native gifts to the Church ; Methodist mission- 
aries discouraged native dances, did not object to divorce and 
financed their work by an annual collection which the natives 
called the ' tula tula (Methodist) throwaway ' ; Lutheran 
missionaries proscribed all native dances and games ; and 
German officials, such as Bulwinski, colonised ruthlessly with 
the lash, and permitted traders and planters to flog and birch, 

" Their delicate and complex social system almost de- 
molished, the natives of New Guinea reacted to these 
bewildering influences with that ennui which defies psycho- 
analysis, but which is now appreciated as the most puissant 
factor in the depopulation of primitive races in contact with 
advanced civilisations. When, eight years ago, Australia 
took charge of former German New Guinea, charged by the 
mandate to fit the natives * to stand under the strenuous 
conditions of the modern world/ its administration had to 
deal with 500,000 natives who were slowly but surely dying 
through apathy. In view of the centuries which separate 
their stage of evolution from ours, the- administration 
cannot be expected to have done much for the natives in 
eight years, but it has done a great deal more than its de- 
tractors within the territory and without would have the 
League of Nations believe. 

" By no means all the natives of New Guinea are natural 
agriculturists. In their natural state food was easy to 
procure, and the ' boys ' were so busy fighting that they 
left their ' marys ' (women) to do what little cultivation was 
necessary. Appreciable success has followed the paternal 
encouragement of agriculture by district officers, who are 
handicapped by the fact that although it is legal to compel 
natives to grow enough food for their sustenance (a striking 
symptom of the dreadful apathy with which they are 
afflicted), they cannot be compelled to cultivate for trade, 
because that would be forced labour. 


" As in all native administration, much depends upon the 
personality of the District Administrator, whom the natives 
call ' Kiap.' " 

Though the conditions described are the results of German 
rule, such reports make sorry reading. How can a savage 
appreciate the benefits of civilisation when rival missions 
fight like cat and dog for his soul, when his customs are 
destroyed and he himself is ruthlessly exploited ? In the 
circumstances, it is hardly surprising if the race has become 
depressed to such a degree that the people have to be forced 
to cultivate their own food. What has happened in New 
Guinea shows how essential it is, in dealing with primitive 
people, that the administrator should be sympathetic and 
interested ; customs so far as is possible should be preserved, 
missions should be controlled, and rival missions should not 
be allowed, only one mission being permitted to work in 
one field. It is wrong to inflict upon the savage the futile 
religious rivalries of the West, and with primitive people 
religious differences speedily end in broken heads. So far 
among the Lakhers there is but one mission, and it is to be 
hoped that they will be spared a second. Had the Zeuhnang 
and the Sabeu known of the blessings conferred by civilisa- 
tion on the peoples of New Guinea, they would doubtless 
have welcomed its advent even less heartily than they did ; 
as it is, I have not the smallest doubt but that they would 
much rather have been left independent, even though their 
treatment has been the absolute reverse of that meted out 
to the natives of New Guinea, and even though, as they 
themselves will admit, they have benefited by being taken 
under British rule. The process of absorption in this part 
of India may be said to have begun in 1777, when the Chief 
of Chittagong reports to Warren Hastings the bad behaviour 
of a mountaineer called Ramoo Caw r n, who " committed 
great violence on the company's land-holders," and who 
called to his aid " large bodies of Kookie men, who live far 
in the interior parts of the hills, who have not the use of 
firearms and whose bodies go unclothed." l Coming gradu- 

1 Lewin, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong and tfo Dwellers Therein, p. 21 
N. E. P. 



ally into closer contact with the hill tribes, Government was 
forced in 1860 to constitute the Chittagong Hill Tracts 
district. After this followed the various Lushai expedi- 
tions, leading to the annexation of the Hills, the process not 
finally ending till 1924, wheif the remaining unadministered 
territory was taken over by Assam and Burma. These 
tribes, having been brought under administration in interests 
other than their own, their activities have been circumscribed, 
head-hunting has been stopped, slaves have been freed, guns 
have been controlled, and the hillman has been made to 
conform to a settled though loose form of administration. 
It will naturally take a savage time to adapt himself to order 
and discipline, and meanwhile he may lose much of his 
interest in life. This is shown very clearly by the songs of 
the Zeuhnang : " Government has taken over all our 
country, we shall always have to work for Government ; 
it were better had we never been born," or " Government 
has now hemmed us in, on the north, on the south, on the 
east, on the west. Henceforth none of our young warriors 
will drink of the waters of the Salu river, where we always 
used to raid." Much of the joie de vive has gone. To 
replace the old enthusiasm for war, the capture of slaves, 
the feasts over heads, the free hunting of all kinds of game 
whenever they pleased, the Lakher has been given security ; 
this he appreciates, but it is doubtful whether security, at 
any rate at first, fills the place of what he has lost. It is 
necessary therefore to replace, so far as is possible, the 
pursuits that have been banned by other pursuits of a nature 
less objectionable to the civilised mind. Not only is it 
desirable that all customs save those which obviously cannot 
be tolerated should be sympathetically preserved, but it is 
equally essential that the hillman should be protected from 
an influx of plainsmen eager to exploit him and contemp- 
tuous of his customs and habits of life. Encouragement should 
be given to all pursuits such as agriculture which will fit the 
hillman to hold his own in modern life, while a stereotyped 
literary education which breeds denationalisation and 
fecklessness should be banned. What is needed above all 
is sympathetic and firm rule, personal knowledge of the 


people and interest in their ways of life, I cannot do better 
than quote here the words penned by Lewin in 1869. Though 
Lewin wrote sixty years ago, what he said is as true now 
as it was then. " This I say, let us not govern these hills 
for ourselves, but administer the country for the well-being 
and happiness of the people dwelling therein. What is 
wanted here is not measures, but a man. Place over them 
an officer gifted with the power of rule, not a mere cog in 
the great wheel of government, but one tolerant of the 
failings of his fellow-creatures and yet prompt to see and 
recognise in them the touch of nature that makes the whole 
world kin, apt to enter into new trains of thought and to 
modify and adopt ideas, but cautious in offending national 
prejudice. Under a guidance like this, let the people by 
slow degrees civilise themselves. With education open to 
them and yet moving under their own laws and customs, 
they will turn out not debased and miniature epitomes of 
Englishmen, but a new and noble type of God's creatures." l 
In order therefore to minimise the deterioration, mental or 
moral or physical, which may ensue when a primitive race 
comes in contact with modern civilisation, hill officers should 
be carefully selected and trained, as much harm can be done, 
with the best intentions, simply through lack of knowledge, 
which can be obviated by training yoiing officers for what 
is most certainly a specialist's job. 

The Mission. 

A more active instrument of change than Government is 
the Christian mission. The Lakhers have not been affected 
by the mission in the same way as the Lusheis, for although 
a mission has been established at Saiko for nearly twenty 
years, it has made comparatively little headway. As yet 
the Lakher mission has done little or no harm, and has in 
certain directions done much good. The Lakhers have not 
witnessed the frenzied orgies of revival dancing that some 
years ago disgraced the Lushei Christians. It is not yet 
necessary on visiting a Christian friend to weep on greeting 

1 Cf. Lewin, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong and the Dwellers Therein, 
p. 118, and Wild Races of South-eastern India, p. 351, N. E. P. 


your hostess, and to confess to her how wicked you are and 
how heavily your sins weigh upon you, while your hostess 
in her turn assures you that she is a much more miserable 
sinner than you, according to the custom of Biate village, 
as related to me by one of the more sensible of the Welsh 
Mission pastors, who strongly objected to such hysterical 
proceedings. The pharisaical attitude of " we alone are 
saved and all the rest are damned " has not yet been adopted 
by the Lakher Christian, though it is to be feared that this 
will come unless care is taken to suppress it. This absence 
of emotional hysteria is partly due to the fact that the hard- 
headed Lakher has little use either for education or for the 
teaching of the mission, and partly to the fact that so far the 
mission has always insisted on strict discipline among the boys 
in the school and on their all working in return for their 
education. No effort has been spared to ensure that educa- 
tion shall not lead to the creation of parasites ; the boys have 
been encouraged to retain their own customs, and babuism 
has been sternly repressed. The Lakher mission is conducted 
on sound and sensible lines, and the only criticism to be 
made is that the boys in the school wear shorts and cut off 
their top-knots. It is gratifying to see that most of them 
grow their top-knots again on leaving school. It is difficult 
to understand why Christianity should involve denationali- 
sation. There is no virtue in cotton drawers or in short 
hair. To quote Lewin again l : " Our present notions of 
sexual decorum are highly artificial. The question of more 
or less clothes is purely one of custom and climate. If it 
were the custom for the legs of horses and dogs to be clothed 
it would assuredly in a short time be stigmatised as gross 
indecency were they to appear in the streets without 
trousers." So with the Lakhers, if missionaries would try to 
improve their conditions without interfering with their dress 
and introducing the convict crop, they would receive more 
sympathy for their undoubtedly high ideals. The Lakher's 
dress is suited to his surroundings and his needs, his cloths are 
woven and decorated in the most artistic patterns ; surely 

1 Lewin, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong and the Dwellers Therein, p. 117. 
N. E. P. 


it is better to encourage the people to weave and wear their 
own beautiful cloths than to impose upon them the drab 
uniform of khaki drawers and cotton shirt, on which good 
money is unnecessarily wasted. Their wcll-cared-for top- 
knots of hair give scope for a display of lacquered and brass 
hair-pins and combs of great beauty. With the advent of 
the shaven pate these will all disappear. When a primitive 
people have beautiful things they should be encouraged to 
wear them ; far from inducing them to adopt a debased 
form of Western dress, we should endeavour to preserve all 
that is beautiful in their own costume. By so doing we 
shall increase their self-respect and encourage them to 
develop their own art on their own lines. 

Again, Lakher and Lushei Christians are not allowed to 
drink wine, beer or spirits, and no one can become a Christian 
who ever touches alcohol. In the author's opinion this is 
going much too far. The people have few pleasures, and 
after strenuous work, most likely in torrents of rain, a 
stimulant is rather a good thing. It would therefore be 
better to encourage temperance than to insist on prohibition. 
Among more civilised people prohibition has led to deceit ; 
its results are the same among these primitive hillmen. 
There are so few Christians among the Lakhers that the ill 
effects of prohibition are not yet so marked as among the 
Lusheis ; but if Christianity spreads and prohibition is 
insisted on, the same ill effects will occur. There is bound 
to arise a body of ex-Christians who have been turned out 
of the Church for drinking beer, but who, having lost their 
own beliefs, are subject to no moral sanctions whatever. 
There are many such among the Lusheis. It is to be hoped 
that a lesson will be learnt from the evils which prohibition 
purporting to be based on religion has caused among the 
Lusheis, and that a more enlightened policy may be followed. 
To a lay mind the teaching that no one who drinks beer can 
be a Christian savours of deceit, and one cannot be surprised 
if surreptitious drinking exists among Christian Lusheis and 
Lakhers. The Lusheis are much more advanced than the 
Lakhers ; they see many Christians who use alcohol, and 
naturally ask why their particular brand of Christianity 


prohibits all alcoholic drinks. As they become more 
enlightened they will inquire deeper, and trouble will ensue. 
With a primitive people absolute truth is essential ; once 
you deceive them, even with good motives, you forfeit their 
trust. For this reason, to make abstinence from drink an 
essential tenet of Christianity is entirely wrong, and is bound 
to lead to trouble. Encourage temperance in every way 
possible, but do not base your teaching on a false founda- 

The Lakher mission therefore has an object lesson at its 
doors showing the need for discrimination. It is unfortunately 
so much easier to destroy customs wholesale than to pre- 
serve and improve them, and among the Lusheis destruction, 
admittedly with the best intentions, has worked havoc. 
When mission work was first started among the Lusheis it 
was carried on largely by the light of nature, without training 
and without knowledge of the customs of the people. This 
led to the condemnation as heathen and useless of some 
most excellent customs, which no one who had studied them 
could have failed to wish to preserve. No use was made of 
the zawlbuk or bachelor's house, nor of the custom of 
tlawmngaihna (an untranslatable term, meaning the obli- 
gation on every one to be unselfish and to help others). 
The zawlbuk was condemned quite wrongly as an evil place 
where people drank, while the practice of tlawmngaihna was 
neglected. Through lack of knowledge, therefore, excellent 
customs which would have greatly strengthened the Church, 
while at the same time keeping it Lushei and averting 
denationalisation, were left unused, and actually discouraged. 
Mission influence therefore has been largely destructive, 
good customs having been destroyed and not replaced ; at 
the same time, it is curious to see attempts on the part of 
Lushei church elders to arrogate to themselves temporal 
power at the expense of the chiefs. Such encroachments 
deserve short shrift. They are only made possible through 
ignorance and failure on the part of the heads of the Church 
to realise the importance of respecting Lushei custom. Is 
it too much to ask, therefore, that all missionaries should 
receive some training, at least in anthropology, before being 


sent out to try their prentice hands on a primitive people ? 
There are signs now that better training is being given by 
some missions, but no one in future should be allowed to 
become a missionary by the light of nature ; missionary 
work requires training, like any other work. These primitive 
tribes have so many admirable customs that no one, however 
high his motives, should venture to interfere and condemn 
until he has studied the customs and knows what he is doing ; 
while trying to improve, he should refrain from denationalis- 
ing ; instead of dressing his converts in the cast-off rags 
of Europe, he should preserve their native dress and allow 
them to maintain their own style of hair-dressing. Lakhers 
and Lusheis know perfectly well how to keep their hair 
clean, and it is only laziness if they do not do so. By 
encouraging schoolboys to cut their hair, the mission is 
encouraging idleness. No one can pretend that it is a good 
thing that tlawmngaihna, while still practised by heathen 
Lusheis, should often be conspicuous by its absence among 
Christian Lushei communities ; the reverse should be the 
case, and the fact that it is not so is due to failure in the 
past to study and make use of Lushei custom. It is to be 
hoped, therefore, that the Lakher mission will take warning 
and profit by the mistakes of its neighbours. I write as a 
friend, not as an opponent, as I am sure that, provided 
mission work proceeds on sound lines, much good can be 
done. Where, however, work is done purely by the light 
of nature, without training, without study, but simply under 
the influence of a call, which in many cases has only impelled 
the person called to preach, but not to make any study of 
the people he wishes to convert, I fear that as much harm 
is done as good. An incident that occurred some years ago 
when I was in the Garo Hills, where there is an American 
Mission, is a good example of the lengths to which de- 
nationalisation may go if the missionaries neglect the study 
and teaching of tribal customs. I was inspecting a mission 
school and asking the small boys various questions. Now 
there is a very well-known tradition among the Garos that 
formerly they came from Tibet, and they can tell you the 
route by which they came. I therefore asked one of the 


small boys, " Where did the Garos originally come from ? " 
The answer came out pat, " We came from America/' 

In writing of the Lakhers it is impossible to avoid mention 
of the mission. For good or for ill the mission is working in 
the Lakher country, and almost inevitably it must in due 
time produce considerable effect on Lakher culture and 
habits of thought. It is just as necessary therefore for the 
mission to be conducted efficiently as for Government. 
It is absolutely essential that a mission should be intelli- 
gently controlled, as missionaries are constantly dealing 
with the minds and thoughts of their converts, and cannot 
help exercising considerable influence over them. Mis- 
sionaries give their whole lives and sacrifice everything to 
their work ; surely it is worth their while to devote a short 
time to learning their job. Knowledge will give them real 
sympathy and understanding, and will keep them on the 
right road, unlike the false sympathy, based on sentiment 
and a vague belief in the rights of man, which can only lead 
astray. Once knowledge has been acquired, I venture to 
predict that missionaries will pause long before they venture 
to scrap even a detail of dress, and much more before con- 
demning good customs wholesale. The work of the mission 
and of Government should follow similar lines ; while 
avoiding denationalisation like the plague, they should aim 
at improving the general condition of the people ; by main- 
taining indigenous customs and allowing 'the free develop- 
ment of the tribe on its own lines, they should help the 
people to grow up uncontaminated by foreign influences, and 
enable them to work out their salvation according to their 
own genius. The mentality of these hill tribes is such that 
there is nothing to prevent their developing into very fine 
races if properly handled. 

I would commend to all interested in primitive races the 
remarks made by Dr. Schweitzer, a medical missionary 
of the Paris Evangelical Mission, in Chapter VII of 
his book On the Edge, of the Primeval Forest" l Though 

1 Dr. Albert Schweitzer, On the Edge of the Primeval Forest. Experiences 
and Observations of a Doctor in Equatorial Africa. (A. and C. Black.) 
N. E. P. 


Dr. Schweitzer is dealing with Africa, a very great deal of 
what he says applies equally to the Assam Hill Tribes, and 
is especially interesting as the opinion of a modern mis- 
sionary. In concluding his remarks Dr. Schweitzer says, 
" My opinion is and I have formed it after conversation 
with all the best and most experienced of the white men in 
this district that we should accept but try to improve and 
refine the rights and customs which we find in existence, 
and make no alterations which are not absolutely necessary." 

Physical CJiaracteristics. 

The Lakhers are not remarkable for their beauty, they are, 
however, of good physique, well built and strong. The 
average height of the men is about 5 feet 6 inches. They 
are taller than the Lusheis, and their physical fitness com- 
pares very favourably with that of their neighbours to the 
west in the villages situated on the lower hills between the 
Kolodyne and Lungleh, whose inhabitants are goitrous and 
unhealthy in the extreme. 

The men are good porters, and regularly carry up from 
the jhums loads of at least a maund. When required for 
carrying loads, only the exact number of coolies ordered 
turn up, while when Lushei coolies are engaged double the 
number required always appear, each man bringing a friend 
to help him. The Lakher prefers to carry a full load and 
get full pay. When carrying loads the Lakhers never use 
a yoke. A woman carries from her forehead. The brow- 
band is about l^r feet long and 4 inches wide ; it is made of 
a cane called ari (Calamus erectus, Roxb.), which is used 
because when made up it has a flat smooth surface which 
is comfortable to wear. To each end of this brow-band are 
attached ropes made from the bark of the pazo tree (Hibiscus 
macrophyllus, Roxb.) to tie round the load. 

Men use a combined brow- and shoulder-band. The ends 
of each band are spliced to each other and also to the ropes 
for tying the load, which are made of pazo. The brow- 
band is 2^ feet long, and is made of ari cane (Calamus erectus, 
Roxb.) and worn over the forehead like the woman's. The 


shoulder band is 2 feet long, and is also made of ari cane. 
It is worn over either the right or the left shoulder. This 
double carrying-band is very practical, as it enables a man 
to shift the weight of his load from the brow to the shoulder 
and from one shoulder to the other at pleasure. 

The constant carrying of heavy loads up and down hills 
leads to a great development of the muscles of the calves 
and thighs among both men and women. 

The women, too, are rather taller than Lushei or Kuki 
women and of very good physique. Both sexes are of light 
brown complexion, but darker than the Lusheis, and good 
looks are less common. Colonel Lewin l held that both sexes 
were of a fairer complexion than other hill men, and says 
that the faces of those he had seen bore no signs of the 
prevailing Mongolian type of physiognomy ; he also writes 
that the women reminded him of nothing more than a 
Portuguese half-caste, and describes how they tied their 
hair carefully in bands on each side of the face, fastening 
it in a knot at the back of the head. This mode of hair- 
dressing is no longer in vogue except among the Heima and 
Lialai in North Arakan. I cannot help thinking that 
Colonel Lewin must have seen particularly favourable 
specimens of the race, as his description does not apply to 
the average Lakher of to-day, who is darker than the 
average Lushei and of a distinctly mongoloid cast of 
countenance. As a rule they have broad noses, high cheek- 
bones and slightly oblique mongoloid eyes. Occasionally, 
however, you find men with really good features, but these 
are the exception. The men are far more manly in appear- 
ance than the Lusheis, and have none of that effeminate air 
which makes it so easy to mistake many Lushei men for girls. 
Looks vary somewhat in the different villages, the in- 
habitants of Chapi and Chakang having rather repellent 
and surly faces. The best-looking tribe are the Zeuhnang, 
and it was Zeuhnang that Lewin met on at least one occa- 
sion. The women when young are sometimes pleasing, but 
beauty is certainly not their strong point. They age 

1 T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, pp. 282 and 311. 
N. E. P. 


rapidly, and after marriage become sloppy and take no care 
whatever of their appearance. Even the few who have any 
pretence to good looks are spoilt by their unwashed condi- 
tion. Lakhers do not bother themselves with overmuch 
washing, the usual allowance is once in three months, but 
some confine themselves to once in six months, and the real 
die-hards to once a year. When passing a river on the 
march or when out fishing they usually bathe, and if the 
village water supply is abundant and allows of their doing 
so one often sees them washing, but they do not go out of 
their way to be clean. Still, as their clothes are few, the 
dirt is washed off by the rain, and they are far less filthy 
than they would be if they wore clothes. 


In character the Lakhers are reserved and rather dour on 
the surface, though when one knows them they open out 
and are friendly enough. As compared with the Lusheis, 
they are hard and unsympathetic, entirely lacking the 
spontaneous charm of manner and genuine kindliness of 
disposition so characteristic of many Lusheis, and especially 
of members of the Sailo clan. The Lushei is bound by his 
code of tlawmngaihna to be kindly, unselfish and hospitable ; * 
he must try to help others in distress, must never desert a 
companion out hunting or on a journey, and must vie with 
others in excelling in sport, work or hospitality, and in 
every branch of life must, at any rate in theory, consider 
others first. This code does, moreover, actively influence 
Lusheis in everyday life. The Lakher cares for none of 
these things, his language has no equivalent for tlawm- 
ngaihna, and though individual Lakhers are kindly and 
hospitable, they are not so as a race in the same way 
as the Lusheis. There is less hospitality and cheeriness 
among Lakhers and feasts are fewer, the chief occasions for 
merry-making being marriages and deaths. Lakhers are 
very undisciplined, and the lack of control in a Lakher 
village contrasts very strongly with the excellent discipline 

1 Cf. Parry, Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 19-21. N. E. P. 


maintained among Lusheis. A young Lakher when ordered 
to do something by an elder will argue, where a Lushei 
would obey at once, with the result that it takes much longer 
to enforce an order in a Lakher than in a Lushei village. I 
ascribe much of the indiscipline among the Lakhers to the 
fact that they have no bachelors' house or other equivalent 
to the Lushei zawlbuk. A young Lushei as soon as he is six 
or seven years old is no longer allowed to sleep in his father's 
house, but is sent off to the zawlbuk and becomes the fag of 
the older boys. Very strict discipline is maintained ; the 
younger boys are obliged to work for the older, are taught 
to wrestle, are punished when disobedient, and generally are 
imbued with a sort of public school spirit, with excellent 
effect on their character in after life. A Lakher child's 
training is of the most rudimentary description. A child 
starts speaking by calling his mother " Na, na, na" and 
next refers to his father as " Pa, pa, pa," No deliberate 
training is given ; if a child does wrong, its name is shouted 
loudly, and its father or mother says " Ta kha " (don't do 
that). Children are occasionally gently smacked, but are 
never really beaten till they are seven or eight years old, 
when they are licked with a cane if they do not obey. Once 
they are able to work by themselves, children are never 
beaten. Children are not taught the arts of hunting, 
fishing or trapping, but as soon as they are old enough 
they go with their father to the jungle, see what he does and 
on returning home make model traps. In this way they 
educate themselves. Boys and girls are taught how to weed 
and how to manage a hoe, and girls are taught to weave. 
The only religious exercise that is taught to children is the 
Khazangpina chant ; they learn about other sacrifices by 
watching them. With this very meagre training, and with- 
out the discipline of the bachelor's house, the young Lakher 
is allowed to go his own gait, with the result that his natural 
selfishness and independence are never checked, and he is 
apt to grow up a very headstrong individual. Considering 
his surroundings and upbringing, this is hardly surprising, 
and on the other hand he has some excellent points. He is 
honest, and stealing is practically unknown ; he is fond of 



his family and children, to whom he is indulgent to a fault ; 
he is not greatly given to lying, though extremely litigious. 
In spite of the fact that on the surface some Lakher customs 
may seem to conflict with this view, from a Western stand- 
point the Lakher is a good deal more moral than the Lushei. 
Among the Lusheis bastards are common, and no one thinks 
any the worse of a girl for having given birth to a bastard. 
Among the Lakhers bastards are rare, and the mother of a 
bastard and her offspring are looked upon with the greatest 
contempt. A bastard suffers serious social disabilities, and can 
take no part in the religious ceremonies held by his relations. 
As a consequence of this, Lakher girls are much stricter and 
less free with their favours than Lushei girls, as they fear the 
social stigma incurred if an intrigue ends in its natural result. 
Suits for the bastard's price are rare in Lakher villages. 
Once married the women are very moral. Adultery is not 
common, and divorce, though it presents no difficulties, is 
less frequent than among the Lusheis. Unnatural offences, 
to which the Lusheis were at one time very prone, are quite 
unknown among the Lakhers, and the Lushei tuai, a man 
dressed in woman's clothes, who performed the work and 
other functions of a woman, has no counterpart among the 
Lakhers. The men I questioned on the subject expressed 
an amused horror at the possibility of the existence of such 
a creature. 


The most important article of a Lakher man's dress is the 
dua or loin-cloth. 

There are two kinds of loin-cloth : the dua kalapa for 
everyday wear, and the dua ah for more ceremonial occa- 
sions. The dua kalapa is a cloth about 3i yards long and 
Ij- feet wide. Its manner of tying is rather complicated. 
When putting on a dua kalapa a Lakher holds the cloth 
about \\ feet from one end and places it against the lower 
abdomen, covering the genitals, and leaving about l| feet 
of cloth hanging down in front. The other end of the cloth 
is passed through the legs, pulled up tight to the small of 
the back, and then wound round the waist to the left, 


passing over the portion of cloth covering the genitals and 
holding it in place. It is then wound round the waist once 
again, this time being wound over the body and not over the 
cloth. After this it is wound round a third time, and again 
taken between the flap hanging down in front and the cloth 
going between the legs. When it has been wound round the 
third time, the end of the cloth is passed through the cloth 
already wound round the body at the small of the back, and 
is tucked in on the wearer's left-hand side. Finally the flap 
of cloth hanging down in front is passed between the legs 
and tucked into the folds of cloth at the back. 

The dua ah is a much more ornamental cloth, worn at 
beer-parties, feasts, marriages and other ceremonies. Its 
length is 3 yards and its width 1| feet. The cloth is an 
ordinary white cloth, but at each end there is sewn on a 
2^-foot length of dark blue cloth, richly embroidered with 
patterns in different-coloured silks. In adjusting the dua ah 
it is held against the lower abdomen in the same way as the 
dua kalapa, about 7| feet being left in front, the other end 
of the cloth being passed between the legs, pulled up to the 
small of the back, brought round the waist from the left- 
hand side, passed over the portion of cloth held against the 
abdomen so as to hold it in place, and then carried round the 
waist to the back again. The portion lying loose in front is 
then gathered up and held, so that while the embroidered 
flap hangs down in front, a double fold of the plain white 
cloth is laid against the cloth already covering the abdomen ; 
the other end is then brought round the waist again, passed 
between the embroidered flap hanging down in front and 
the double fold of cloth covering the abdomen, and wound 
round again to the back, whence it is again wound round the 
body, and not over the cloth which has been already tied. 
When the end of the cloth again reaches the wearer's back, 
it is passed through the cloth covering the scrotum and taken 
up and passed through the part of the cloth which forms a 
waistband, whence the embroidered end hangs down over 
the buttocks a little to the left-hand side. The embroidered 
ends are thus displayed in front and behind. The double 
end of white cloth which has been left hanging in front 


under the embroidered flap is then passed between the legs 
and tucked into the waistband at the back. 

When at work a man simply wears a dua kalapa, though 
occasionally nowadays men wear a plain cotton coat called 
viapako. When they are standing about and doing 
nothing, they usually wear another cloth measuring about 
7 feet by 5 feet, which is drawn over the left shoulder, 
over the chest, and under the right arm, the end being again 
thrown over the left shoulder, the cloth hanging down so as 
to cover the whole body and to afford a modicum of warmth. 
On a cold day in winter, however, they look uncommonly 
chilly, and sit huddled up round any fire they can find, 
looking like nothing so much as a group of old vultures. 

There are a number of different cloths which are worn in 
this way. The finest cloth produced is the cheulopang, the 
ground of which is dark blue. Two white lines run down the 
middle, and the whole cloth is heavily embroidered with 
patterns in silk, said to represent the eyes of different birds 
and beasts. The cheulopang is only worn by men or women 
belonging to a chief's family. Another fine cloth is the 
cheunapang. Its ground is red, and it is embroidered with 
red and yellow silk. It is worn by chiefs and well-to-do 
people. The viapang is a plain dark blue cloth with a red 
stripe down the middle, and the zeupang is a thin cloth with 
white stripes on a black ground. The cloth most usually 
worn is the chiaraku, which is a plain white cloth with two 
broad black stripes running through it. The pangzapa is a 
plain white cloth with no ornamentation. The warmest 
cloth the Lakhers possess is the siahriapang , a heavy cloth 
of very coarse cotton which is used as a blanket. It is 
something like the Lushei puanpui, but not nearly so warm. 
Burmese check cloths are also popular. All the cloths 
described above can be worn by men and women alike, 
except the dua, which can only be worn by men. Men do 
not lay aside their clothing at night ; they wear the same 
cloths as in the daytime. 

The existence of a much more primitive form of dress 
among the Sabeus of Khihlong and Heima was reported in 
1901 by one Longtha of Kiasi, who was sent round the then 


independent Lakher villages to collect information by Mr. 
Drake-Brockman, the Sub-Divisional Officer of Lungleh. 
Longtha reported that both men and women in these villages 
were practically stark naked. " The former strap their penis 
to their stomach in a vertical position, holding it there by 
means of a little strip of cloth, from the ends of which 
strings go and fasten round the waist and at the centre of 
the cloth. At the lower end there is also a string which 
passes through the centre or scrotum between the legs and 
fastens on the waist-string behind, leaving the testicles 
quite bare. The women wear a small bit of covering of the 
bark of a tree, suspended by a waist string just in front to 
hide their private parts, and nothing behind. This con- 
stitutes all the clothing worn by both sexes." l 

I have never myself seen any Lakher man or woman 
wearing such a costume, whether in Khihlong or any other 
villages, but is is quite possible that in 1901. when they were 
still absolutely untouched by outside influences, these 
primitive clothes were in vogue among the poorer classes. 
There is no reason at all why Longtha should have invented 
the story, and it would never have occurred to a Lakher to 
describe such a mode of dress unless he had actually seen 
it. The men's dress appears to be a rudimentary form of 
the dua kalapa, which is probably a development from it. 
The bark skirt is certainly further removed from the volu- 
minous skirts worn by women to-day, but such skirts are 
worn by women of other tribes, and it seems probable that 
Longtha's description of the Sabeu women's skirt is correct. 

Men's Hair Dressing. 

The men always wear puggrees called khuthang, which are 
of two kinds, according as the wearer belongs to the older 
or the younger generation. The elder men on all ordinary 
occasions merely wear a bit of rag round their top-knots, 
and this has to do duty as a khuthang. When on the war- 
path or on a journey, when dancing the Sawlakia, or when 
performing the Khazangpina sacrifice, and nowadays when 

1 From a note recorded by Mr. C. B. Drake-Brockman, dated Lungleh, 
29th May, 1901. N. E. P. 



going to meet a high official, the elder men wear a special 
khuthang, which must be tied in a particular way. This 
formal khuthang consists of 4 yards of white cloth about a 
foot wide. About 1J feet from each end a black stripe an 
inch wide is woven into the cloth. The hair is worn in a 
knot on the top of the head just over the forehead. The 
khuthang is first wound round this top-knot. It is held in 
both hands ; the end held in the right hand is put round the 
top-knot and then twisted round the back of the head from 
right to left. After this it is twisted round the top-knot 
again once or twice, or as many times as are required, and 
the end is adjusted at the same spot on the top-knot as 
that from which the khuthang started, but the khuthang 
must be so tied that the black stripe 1| feet from the end 
of the cloth is in an exact line with the wearer's nose. 

The younger men also wear a khuthang, which consists of 
a strip of white cloth 2 yards long by 1 foot wide with no 
black stripes in it. After being woven the cloth is bleached 
by soaking it in water which has been strained through wood 
ashes. This khuthang is tied in the same way as that worn 
by the older men ; a brass hairpin (sakia) is run through the 
top of the hair knot to hold it in place, a lacquered comb 
(sathi) is worn at the back of the top-knot and a lacquered 
bamboo hairpin (sawkahrong) or sometimes a brass hairpin 
runs between the comb and the top-knot. Nowadays the 
ribs of old umbrellas cut to the right length are often 
used as hairpins. The end of the rib is sharpened, the 
little knob at the top serving as a head. These hairpins are 
very useful for extracting thorns from the feet when travel- 
ling in the jungle. Fine imported cloth is replacing the 
home-made product for khuthangs, and the modern blood 
adds a touch of colour by wearing a red or blue ribbon round 
the portion of the khuthang which encircles the top-knot. 
The hair is greased with pig's fat and kept carefully tended 
and clean. Lakhers are very proud of their hair. Boys' 
hair is cut up to the age of nine ; after that age the hair 
should never be cut. A man whose hair has been cut 
cannot take part in the Khazangpina sacrifice. In the old 
days only lunatics and idle, good-for-nothing slaves had their 


hair cut ; nowadays mission-school boys must be included 
in this merry company. The Lakhers do not like other 
people to use their combs or brass hairpins. It is not ana 
to use another's comb, and it is not a matter which would 
call for a fine, but there is a strong feeling against it. They 
fear that if a man who is subject to headaches or who has 
a vampire soul (ahmaw) uses another's comb, the owner 
of the comb, when it is returned to him, may also suffer from 
headaches, or may even become a vampire himself. 1 The 
Lushei share this belief. Lakhers dislike getting their hair 
wet, and hardly ever wash it. They say that wet hair 
smells unpleasant and is the cause of sickness. The Bunjo- 
gees, a kindred tribe to the Lakhers, wear their hair in the 
same way, and Lewin gives the following story of the origin 
of the fashion. 2 " One day the squirrel and the horned owl 
had a quarrel, and the squirrel bit the owl on the top of his 
head, so that he became all bloody ; and when the squirrel 
saw the owl under this new aspect he became frightened and 
ran away, and the owl devoured all his young ones. A 
Bunjogee chief observed this. He was a Koavang, and the 
tiger came and told him that what he had seen was a message 
from Khozing. Thus it is that when the Bunjogees go to 
war they bind their hair over the forehead and put red 
cloth in their hair, so that, like the horned owl, they may take 

Earrings are not worn by the elder men, but the younger 
men, from the age of nine up to the time of their marriage, 
wear a special kind of earring called hawmiraheu, which is 
worn by both men and women. This earring is illustrated 
in Fig. 6, p. 40. These are the only metal earrings made by 
the Lakhers themselves. Some potter's clay or some of the 
clay thrown up by termites is pounded on a stone with a 
little water. When the clay is plastic it is placed on a stone 
or plank. A bamboo stick is cut to the size of the earring 
it is proposed to make, and is pressed into the clay till the 
end of the stick is level with the rim of the hole made in the 

1 C/. Lieutenant R. Stewart, "Notes on Northern Cachar," J.A.S.B., 
1855, No. 7, for the comb among the Kookies. N. E. P. 

* Lewin, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong and the Dwellers Therein, p. 96. 
N. E. P. 


clay by the stick. The stick is then pulled out and the lump 
of clay is cut in half with a dao, leaving half the impression 
of the stick on each portion of the severed lump. A pattern 
is cut in the clay on each half with a knife, and the 
mould is placed in the sun to dry. When the mould is 
dry the two halves are tied together again with bark string. 
Some solder or white metal is mixed with pig's fat and melted 
in the forge, the fat being added as it is said to cause the 
metal to melt quickly. The molten metal is then poured into 
the mould and left to cool. When quite cool and hard, the 
clay is chipped off and the earrings are ready. I am told 
that the reason why only these small earrings are made by 
this process is that solder is scarce and difficult to get, what 
little there is having to be brought from Arakan. Men who 
possess them wear necklaces of pumteks, a black-and-white 
bead, sometimes round and sometimes oval or flat in shape. 
The round beads resemble peppermint bulls'-eyes. Old 
necklaces of these beads are very highly valued and treated 
as heirlooms. It is almost impossible to buy them, as no 
Lakher will part with them unless in the very last resort. 
Modern pumtek beads are imported from Mandalay, but I 
do not know where they are made. They are of very different 
quality from the old beads, and it is easy to distinguish a new 
bead from an old one. New beads fetch up to ten rupees 
each, according to their quality. Legend relates that old 
pumteks were the droppings of a goat. When the goat's 
owner fed him well, the goat produced pumteks of great 
excellence ; if the quality of the food fell off, the pumteks 
likewise deteriorated. 

No Lakher's costume is complete without a small em- 
broidered bag called sahria, which is worn hung over the 
left shoulder and contains the nicotine-water flask, pipe, 
tobacco and tinder box. When going to war a man only 
wore his loin-cloth, a plain white cloth tied crosswise over 
the shoulders, and a bag. The warrior also carried his dao, 
his gun or spear, his powder-flask and shield. 

The nicotine-water flasks are called karoaivng, and are 
made out of gourd or mithun's horn, the former being used 
by the common people and the latter by chiefs. Horn 




flasks are made by cutting off the base of a small mithun's 
horn, leaving a length of eight or nine inches to the tip. 
The opening at the base of this nine inches of horn is filled 
with a wooden plug, the point of the horn is cut off and 
closed with a wooden stopper. The horn and the wooden 
plug at the base are then ornamented to the owner's taste 
with patterns in red and black lacquer and solder ; some- 
times the flasks are simply lacquered plain red or plain black. 
The flask is filled with nicotine water, and the stopper, which 
is attached to the horn with a string, can be removed at will. 
Wooden flasks are also made like the horn flasks, and 
lacquered in the same way. 1 The gourd flasks are much 
commoner, and are made as follows. The top of the gourd 
is cut off, the pulp inside is crushed as far as possible with a 
small stick, sand mixed with water is poured in and left to 
stand for two or three days, after which the pulp is again 
crushed with a small stick and the seeds and pulp are 
poured out. The hollow gourd is next filled with water 
and left for three days, when the water is poured out. This 
process is continued until such time as the water in the 
gourd has ceased to be bitter to the taste, when it is ready 
to receive the nicotine water. The flask is completed by a 
small gourd cork which closes the opening (cf. Fig. 2, p. 91). 
Tinder boxes, called pachi chilong, are of two kinds. The 
commoner is illustrated at page 91, Fig. 6. The box itself 
is of plain wood and the cover of hide. The other kind is 
illustrated at page 52, Fig. 1. It is made of wood lacquered 
black. The two component parts of the box are kept 
together by string, which passes through two little wooden 
slots cut at each end. Each box contains flint, steel and 
tinder, the latter the dried sap of the sasai palm (Caryota 

Women's Dress. 

The women wear far more clothes than the men, and when 
going to bed at night keep on the cloths they wear by day. 
Unaffected by the modern fashions of the West, they cover 
their nether limbs with a dark blue cotton petticoat called 

1 For details of the process of ornamentation, see p. 46. N. E. P. 


cheunahnang, the lower part of which is embroidered in silk. 
Over this is worn a skirt, which is shorter than the petticoat, 
so as to display the embroidered end of the latter. This 
skirt may be of plain dark blue cloth, when it is known as 
hnangra, or, if the lady prefers gayer clothes, she wears an 
embroidered skirt called viahnang instead. The women of 
lana village are famed for the beauty of their embroidered 
skirts, which command a ready sale. Ladies belonging to a 
royal house have a special cloth for ceremonial occasions 
called sisai a hnang, ornamented with cowries and different 
kinds of beads. The ornamentation varies in different 
villages. The cloth described below was seen by me in 
Savang. The cloth itself is dark blue, and the top quarter 
of the cloth, which is tied round the waist, is left plain. 
About three-quarters of the way up are placed three rows 
of cowries, one below the other, running the whole width 
of the cloth ; below these comes a row of small, round, green 
beads called chhihrang, followed successively by a row of 
wild coix seeds called sachipa, another row of chhihrang, a 
row of red beads called sisai, another row of chhihrang, a 
row of sachipa and a row of brass beads, of the size and shape 
of a match, called dawchalcopa. Below the brass beads follow 
successively a row each of sachipa, chhihrang, sisai, chhihrang, 
sachipa, finished off at the bottom with tassels of red silk. 
The cloth is sometimes finished off with a row of the wings 
of a brilliant green beetle (Chrysochroa bivittata) instead of 
with the red silk tassels. The upper row of beads is sewn 
firmly on to the cloth, the lower rows are strung on to cotton 
thread, and hang down in a fringe below the bottom of the 
cloth. These cloths are very beautiful. They are made by 
their royal owners themselves, and form part of their dowry. 
It is practically impossible to buy one, as the owners refuse 
to part with them. They are worn at weddings and at the 
Pakhupila dance. 

Ordinary skirts and petticoats are wide enough to go once 
round the body only. They are held up by metal belts worn 
round the waist and over the buttocks. These belts are 
called hrakhaw and chaiphiapha, the former being of brass 
and the latter of bell metal. Numerous belts are worn, and 




the number of belts is an indication of the wealth of the 
wearer. The women take great pride in having well- 
polished belts. New belts are never bright, and polish is 
only slowly acquired by the belt rubbing against the body 
of the owner as she walks. The hrakhaw is a heavy, flexible 
belt made of links of brass joining into each other. These 
are sold to the Lakhers by Chin merchants, and are made by 
the Chins of Hnarang. There is a smaller and lighter brass 
belt made in the same way, and also called hrakfaw (cf. 
Fig. 3, p. 40. The chaiphiapha is shown in Fig. 8, p. 40, and 
is made in three patterns in Hnarang, and sold by the Chins. 

The chongchi (Fig. 1, p. 40) is made of lengths of spiral 
brass tubing, through the centre of which a string is run to 
attach the belt. These are also made in Hnarang and sold 
by the Chins. 

The saka (Fig. 10, p. 40) is a white-metal belt made of 
hundreds of small, circular, metal rings like tiny washers, 
and is obtained from Arakan. The old belts are very highly 
prized, and the saka are the belts preferred above all else by 
the Lakher women. 

The upper part of a Lakher woman's body is clothed in a 
small sleeveless jacket called kohrei, open or very loosely 
tied in front, which barely hides the breasts, while a con- 
siderable gap remains between the bottom of the jacket and 
the top of the skirt. One of the cloths already described, 
that can be worn by either men or women, is usually also 
worn in the same way as it is worn by the men, and cast off 
when doing any work. 

A woman's hair is worn at the back in a knot held in place 
by a heavy brass hairpin called hrokei (Fig. 2, p. 40), which 
keeps the hair well down on the neck ; but the hair, being 
loosely tied, falls about and gives an untidy appearance. 
These hrokei and the men's sakia (Fig. 7, p. 40) are both 
made in the Lakher villages by the cire perdue process. 
Women also wear the bamboo lacquered hairpins called 
sawkahrong (Fig. 11, p. 40). In rainy weather both men 
and women wear hats called lakhu, made of dried leaves 
and bamboo, and also leaf raincoats called chahnang. On 
ordinary occasions the women wear no head covering at 


O w ^ 


8 ^ 5 
^^< s 


. ." 6;. 








all, but young girls at a dance wear a head-dress called 
lalchang, which is not unlike the Lushei vakiria worn by girls 
when dancing the Chai, but higher and more solidly made. 
The girl depicted in the frontispiece is wearing a lakJwng. 
In making a lakhang they start with eight uprights of brass, 
about 1 foot 2 inches long and half an inch thick, to form a 
frame on which to build up the crown. These uprights are 
made by the cire perdue process. The upright is first made 
in wax ; this is pierced with holes at intervals, these holes 
are filled with clay, after which the whole upright is enclosed 
in clay and dried in the sun. The mould is then heated 
in the fire to melt the wax, and thus leave the inside of the 
mould hollow. Brass is then melted down in an earthenware 
pot on the furnace in the forge, and the molten brass is 
poured into the mould. As soon as the brass has cooled, 
the mould is chipped away and the clay inside the holes in 
the brass is pushed out with an iron hairpin and a bamboo 
stick. 1 The holes made in the uprights are at very close 
intervals, and are to hold strings of beads. Starting at the 
bottom, a long string of sisai beads is run through from one 
upright to the other, and so round and round up to the top 
of the uprights, which themselves are held in place by the 
strings of beads. The main body of the crown thus formed 
has no brim ; the lowest row of sisai beads rests directly on 
the wearer's head. When the lakhang is not being worn it 
can be folded up and put away. Having made the body of 
the crown, the next step is to get some parrot's tail feathers, 
cover the quills with lead foil made by paring off lead with 
a knife, and fix each of them with beeswax to a sharp bamboo 
spike, which is then pushed in between the top three rows of 
beads. The head-dress is now complete. 

Lakhang are only worn by the daughters and sisters of 

1 Lusheis also practise the cire perdue process. I know of three men at 
North Vanlaiphai, Hranghleia, Khuanga and Neilaia who make pipe-stems 
in this way. The process is described in detail by Dr. Hutton in Appendix 
E at p. 146 of William Shaw's Notes on the Thadou Kukia. The Vanlaiphai 
people work in the same way, but only use the red clay thrown up by 
termites. The ornamentation is put on as described, and bamboo syringes 
are likewise used to get the fine threads of wax ; the liquid wax being 
squirted into a trough of cold water, where it congeals. The Lakhers are 
not such skilled craftsmen as the Lusheis. N. E. P. 


chiefs on the occasion of marriages and when dancing the 
Pakhupila. When the owner of a lakhang marries, she wears 
it at her wedding, and takes it with her to her husband's 
house as part of her dowry ; if divorced she takes it back 
home with her, as a lakhang is a woman's property and 
a husband has no power over it. 

Women's Ornaments. 

For ornaments the women wear necklaces, preferably, if 
they possess them, of the cherished pumtek, and, in addition 
to these, various kinds of beads. The sisai (Fig. 7, p. 43) is 
a necklace of small, long, red, opaque beads. Thirty or forty 
strings of these are worn at a time. They are brought from 
Haka, and sold to the Lakhers by the Chins. Another kind 
of necklace is the dapachhi (Fig. 6, p. 43), made of white glass 
beads shaped like sisai beads. Five strings of these are worn 
at a time. They come from Arakan, whence come also the 
hard, round, white beads called lavaw. About forty of these 
beads go to make one string, and only one string of them is 
worn at a time. 

Naba (Fig. 4, p. 43) or theisa are cornelians, and come 
from Arakan. About eighty beads go to make up a neck- 
lace, and one string only is worn at a time. 

The most expensive of these necklaces are those composed 
of naba, which are valued at ten rupees a string. Lavaw are 
worth one rupee a string, sisai four rupees for thirty strings 
and dapachhi only an anna a string. 

Besides the earrings called hawmiraheu, which have 
already been described, there are two other kinds worn by 
Lakher women. The commoner kind is a wooden earring 
called thangraheu (Fig. 5, p. 43), made by the Lakhers them- 
selves with their knives. It is shaped like a stud, the head 
being ornamented with patterns in lacquer and solder, by the 
same process as is followed in ornamenting powder-flasks. 
The less common kind is called takaraheu (Fig. 2, p. 43), 
and in shape is exactly like the seed of the tall begonia 
(Begonia Roxburghii) from which it has obviously been copied. 
The core consists of lac ; the skin is of silver or white metal. 
These earrings are brought from Haka and sold by Chins. 



The younger generation of men and girls have taken to 
wearing in their ears brass and bone collar-studs, which they 
prize highly. Both young men and girls sometimes wear 
orchids or other brightly coloured flowers in their ears. 
This practice, however, is confined to the unmarried. 

Bracelets, which are known generally as lakeu, though 
each kind has its special name, are worn by the women, but 
never by the men. The only kind of bracelet made by the 
Lakhers themselves is called rahongpachhi (Fig. 8, p. 43). 
This bracelet consists of brass beads strung upon a cotton 
string. The method by which these beads are made is as 
follows. A broken brass pot is cut into pieces, which are 
placed in an earthenware pot made for the purpose, which 
is then put on the fire in the forge. When the brass is melted 
it is poured off into another earthen pot, and as soon as it is 
cool enough to handle is hammered out on a stone till it is in 
thin sheets of the thickness of paper. The hammers used for 
this work are imported from the plains. The brass leaf is cut 
into strips an inch long by half an inch wide. The workman 
takes a strip, binds it round a piece of iron wire, the ribs 
of old umbrellas being preferred for this purpose, and works 
it into the shape of a bead by tapping it with the back of his 
dao. As soon as the bead is the right shape it is pulled off 
the wire and is ready for stringing. These bracelets are 
worn twisted once or twice round the wearer's wrist. Via- 
chhipang (Fig. 1, p. 43) are bracelets made out of very small 
black and white beads resembling pumteks, but much smaller. 
The beads are threaded on cotton strings and wound two or 
three times round the wearer's wrist. The Lakhers buy 
them from Haka Chins. Chhihrang are bracelets made out 
of small, round, opaque green beads. They are worn in the 
same way as the viachhipang, and are also brought from Haka. 

The bracelets described above are those which have 
always been worn by the Lakhers. Nowadays the girls 
wear all sorts of coloured glass bangles brought from Lungleh 
bazaar, and also a kind of metal bangle from the same source. 
These are all of very poor workmanship, and get broken 
quickly. Lakher women never wear anklets. There is one 
other ornament, called kihlong, which merits description, 




and is illustrated at page 40, Fig. 4. A kihlcmg is a conch- 
shell, and they are brought in their plain state from Arakan 
and ornamented by the Lakhers with a pattern of small 
circles with a dot in the middle of each. To make the 
pattern they take two sharp thin pieces of iron, tie them 
together with string, and use them like the two legs of a 
compass. The dot in the centre is made with the fixed leg ; 
the other leg moving round makes a small circle. The dots 
and circles are then coloured with lampblack. A hole is 
bored at the wide end of the conch-shell, through which 
passes a string whereby the shell is attached to a necklace 
of sisai beads. When the sisai beads are worn the kihlong 
is worn also at the back of the neck suspended from the 
strings of beads which hang down in front. These orna- 
mented conch-shells are rare, and are highly valued. 

Weapons and Tools. 

The Lakhers do nob possess many weapons. Till about 
a hundred years ago they had no guns. We know that the 
Kukies who came to help Ramoo Kawn in 1777 had no 
firearms, 1 and it was probably not till the disposal of surplus 
weapons at the end of the Napoleonic wars that guns began 
to trickle out to these wilds, being imported through Chitta- 
gong and Akyab. Most of the old flint-locks are Tower 
muskets marked with dates somewhere round 1815. Lakhers 
say that they had guns in the time of lakhai, father of Theulai, 
chief of Saiko, who died in 1927 aged between a hundred and 
a hundred and twenty years. When lakhai was chief, which 
was at least a hundred years ago, the Tlongsai were at war 
with the Thlatla Pois, and both sides used firearms and were 
able to make their own gunpowder. The Burmese are said 
to have had firearms in 1404, as when the King of Pegu 
advanced against Prome he dared not attack the place, 
because guns were mounted on the ramparts and some of 
the garrison were armed with firearms. 2 It is possible 
therefore that the Lakhers may have had a knowledge of 

1 Lewin, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong and the Dwellers Therein, p. 21. 
N. E. P. 

2 Sir A. Phayre, History of Burma, p. 70. N. E. P. 


firearms at a much earlier date without actually possessing 

It must have been later than this that the Lakhers learnt 
to make gunpowder, but from whom I have been unable to 
discover ; that the Lusheis learnt the art from the Lakhers 
has, however, been recorded by Lewin. 1 The guns now are 
handsomely decorated, the stocks being lacquered red and 
black. With the gun is carried a powder-flask made out of 
mithun's horn, ornamented with patterns in black and red 
lacquer and inlaid white metal. The powder-flasks are 
called zaiawng, and are made and ornamented by the Lakhers 
themselves. The base of the horn is closed with a wedge 
of hard wood, the centre of which is covered with a large 
brass stud. This wedge is covered with a pattern in red 
and black lacquer and inlaid with tin foil. The point of the 
horn is cut off and the hole closed with a wooden stopper, 
which is bound on to the horn with a brass band ; below 
this band the red, black, and silver ornamentation is con- 
tinued. The flask is worn on a sling attached to two brass 
slots. The slings are of cloth, and are often ornamented 
with cowries sewn on in three rows of three, with a star of 
four cowries between each group of rows of three. The 
wooden stopper is capped with a brass stud, and is attached 
to the body of the flask with string to prevent its falling off 
and being lost. The details of the construction and the 
patterns vary according to the taste of the maker. For 
measuring the charge a small bamboo measure is used, about 
3 inches deep and 2 inches in circumference. 

The ornamentation of these powder-flasks is very beauti- 
fully executed, and the work requires great skill and patience. 
The portion to be ornamented is first covered with black 
lacquer. While this is still wet, the patterns are made on 
the lacquer with thin pieces of solder which have been cut 
and kept ready. The solder is cut into the thinnest possible 
flakes, which stick on to the wet lacquer and are handled 
with a small pair of tweezers, as they are far too small to 
manage with the hands. The marvellous thing is that the 

1 T. H. Lewin, The Hill Tracts of Chittagong and the Dwellers Therein, 
p. 107. N. E. P. 



patterns are symmetrical, as the only tools used are a small 
knife for cutting up the solder and the tweezers. Fre- 
quently tweezers are dispensed with, and the little pieces of 
solder are picked up on the sharp edge of a knife or with the 
point of a metal hairpin, and set in position on the lacquer. 
When the solder has been applied and fixed in the required 
patterns, red lacquer is added as desired. As the lacquer 
takes three days at least to dry, it gives time to apply the 
solder at leisure, for the work is so delicate that it cannot 
be done in a hurry. No other tribes in the Lushai Hills 
do delicate work of this nature. The black lacquer is called 
aihi, and is made from the sap which exudes from the bark 
of the Melanorrhoea. This sap when it leaves the tree is 
reddish in colour. Two coats are applied to the object to 
be decorated. The first coat is allowed to dry before the 
second coat is applied, and when the second coat has dried 
the colour is deep black. The red colouring is a powder 
called taku, and the red lacquer is made by mixing this red 
powder with some of the juice of the Melanorrhoea freshly 
collected from the tree, as at this time it quickly acquires a 
bright red hue when mixed with the red powder. It is only 
necessary to apply one coat of red lacquer. The Lakhers 
buy the red powder from the Haka Chins. 

The process described above is also used in colouring and 
ornamenting bamboo or wooden combs, hairpins, and 
nicotine-water flasks. 

Before Lakhers acquired guns their weapons of war were 
bows and arrows, daos and spears. 

Lakher bows are plain. The whole bow is called li, the 
stave is called libaw, and the string is called liri. The stave, 
which is single, is made either of rasang bamboo (Bambusa 
Tulda) or of rahniapa bamboo (Dendrocalamus Hookeri, 
Munro), as these two kinds are the strongest and most 
suitable for the purpose. The stave is generally about 5 feet 
long, the inside of the bamboo forming the convex side. 
The ends of the stave are notched to receive the string. 
The string is made out of the bark of a tree called pazo 
(Hibiscus macrophyllus, Roxb.). The bark having been 
stripped from the tree, the outer bark covering is removed 


and thrown away. The inner skin is held against the sole 
of the foot, and the sticky outer covering is squeezed off 
with a dao. After this it is dried thoroughly in the sun, and 
is then ready for use. To make a bowstring, a strip of dry 
bark is rubbed between the hands or rolled against the thigh 
until it is thoroughly twisted. When two strips have been 
prepared in this way they are rolled together against the 
thigh to make a two-ply string, which is knotted at each end 
to prevent its component strips from flying apart. The 
string is attached directly to the stave by a knot called 
chakhi. In stringing the bow, the stave with the string tied 
at its lower end is placed on the ground and bent over by 
the knee until the string can be tied round the notch at the 
other end. When the bow is not in use, the string is loosened 
from one end and twisted round the stave, so as to allow the 
stave to return to an upright position, and is then kept on 
the shelf above the hearth, as warmth and smoke are said 
to harden it. 

In shooting, the stave is held perpendicularly in the left 
hand, and is gripped just below a knot in the bamboo, which 
is purposely left slightly projecting for the index-finger to 
rest against. The thumb is protected by a bracer called 
hneuthli (Fig. 7, p. 52), made of any fairly durable ordinary 
wood, which is worn on the wrist. The arrow is generally 
allowed to run between the first and second fingers, though 
some archers let it rest on the thumb, and in the case of right- 
handed persons it rests on the right-hand side of the bow, the 
position being reversed in the case of left-handed persons. 
The butt end of the arrow is held between the thumb and first 
finger. The arrows are carried in a bamboo quiver called 
lavaong (Fig. 6, p. 52), about 1 foot 10 inches long and 
3 inches in circumference. The quiver is fitted with a cover 
so that the arrows cannot fall out, the cover being attached 
to the quiver sling by a cane rope fixed to its top, so that it 
will not fall down and get lost when opened in a hurry. An 
ordinary quiver holds twenty or at most thirty arrows. The 
quivers are coloured with plain black lacquer from the athi 
tree (Melanorrhoea). The quiver is suspended over the right 
shoulder by a sling made of plaited cane and hangs at the 


level of the archer's breast so that he can pull out the 
arrows quickly. When about to shoot, two arrows are taken 
out of the quiver ; one is placed in the bow, and the other 
is held in the archer's mouth for his second shot. 

Arrows are of two kinds : those with bamboo heads, called 
theiri, and those with steel heads, called chatai, and are 
about 1 foot 10 inches long. The shafts are made of the 
same kind of bamboo as the bow staves, but rounded and 
polished. They are never feathered. The their i has no 
separate head. The end of the shaft is made very sharp, 
and shaped like a spear-head. The head of the chatai is 
made of steel, which is beaten into shape in the village forge. 
The shaft is run into a socket in the head and fixed in with 
melted lac, which when it has cooled and hardened holds 
the head tightly in place. The notch for the bow-string is 
made in the end of the shaft butt, and is a quarter of an inch 
deep. In the old days bows and arrows were used both for 
war and for hunting, but now they are obsolescent. 

Nowadays the Lakhers do not poison their arrows. It is 
said that formerly they used a poison called theipipakia, 
which they smeared on the steel arrow-heads. The poison 
was made by taking the head of a snake, the head of a large 
black or red ant, the head of a centipede and the head of a 
bee or wasp, placing these in an earthen pot, and leaving 
them there till they rotted. When it appeared from the 
smell that the mixture was sufficiently rotten, the arrow- 
head was warmed, smeared all over with the poison, placed 
in the fire till it was red hot, and then plunged into water. 
By this process the arrow-head was supposed to get impreg- 
nated with poison. The poison had to be prepared by men 
too old to beget children. It was ana for others to make it, 
as the man who discovered the use of the poison laid a curse 
on all who made it in future, which prevents any person who 
makes it from having children. The prescription calls to 
mind that favoured by the witches in Macbeth, and even 
though the rotted heads of the snake and the insects with 
poisonous stings possessed poisonous properties, any poison 
present due to the rotten flesh would surely have been steri- 
lised by plunging the arrow-head smeared with it into the 


fire. The idea at the back of their minds obviously was, 
that as snakes, ants, centipedes, and wasps sting human 
beings, their rotted heads smeared on an arrow would poison 
the man shot, in the same way as the stings of the living 
insects poison those whom they bite. History does not 
relate whether any persons died from the effects of this poison. 
If deaths occurred, they must have been due either to a 
powerful imagination or to poisoning induced by traces of 
the putrid meat of the insects used. 1 

The cross-bow is unknown to the Lakhers. The cheisia, 
or pellet bow, is very common ; every boy has one, but 
grown men are by no means above using them, and fre- 
quently boys shoot small birds with them. I have heard of 
pheasants and jungle-fowl being knocked out with a pellet 
bow, but have never witnessed such a lucky shot. 

The bow consists of a stave cheisiabaw of either rasang 
bamboo (Bambusa Tulda) or of rahniapa bamboo (Dendro- 
calamus Hookeri, Munro), made in exactly the same way as 
the stave of a plain bow, but shorter, being only about 3 feet 
long. The string, which is made out of ari cane (Calamus 
erectus, Roxb.) or out of either of the above-mentioned 
bamboos, is called cheisiari, and is attached to a slot cut 
011 the solid at each end by a special knot called cheisiaripasi. 
The string is split in the middle for some 10 or 11 inches, and 
each end of the split is bound tightly with ari cane to 
prevent it extending. In the centre of the split two small 
pieces of bamboo are inserted to hold the sides apart, and 
they and the two sides of the split forming with them the 
pellet-holder are bound round firmly with ari cane. The 
pellet-holder thus formed is about three-quarters of an inch 
square. Cane is always used for this binding, even though 
the string be of bamboo. The pellets are made of the red 
clay thrown up by termites, pounded up and mixed with 

1 The report in the Statesman of 19th February, 1930, of the death 
of four persons at Marmugao from drinking tea made from water boiled in 
a kettle containing a dead viper, makes one less certain of the harmlessiiess 
of this poison. N. E. P. 

But it has been suggested in one recent case (March, 1930) that poison 
was added to the soup and a cobra's body dropped in as a blind. The 
Lakher practice recalls the common Naga one of tempering a weapon with 
chili and nettle juice to make the enemy smart. J. H. H. 




water, rolled into shape with the hands and then laid out 
in the sun to dry. 

Spears are still constantly used, and carried by any one 
going hunting, or on a journey, or on the way to the fields, 
in case of meeting wild animals. They were always carried 
to war, and Lakhers think them much more effective than a 
gun for killing an enemy at close quarters. Lakhers are 
expert at hurling spears, and often track their game down 
and kill it by hurling a spear at it. Hurling is the commonest 
mode of use, but at close quarters they are equally expert at 
thrusting. The spear is called asei (Fig. 4, p. 52). The shaft, 
aseibi, is made out of the wood of the sasai palm (Caryota 
urens), this wood being preferred as it is heavy and so flies 
straight to the mark. The spear-heads (seiha) are made in 
the village forge from steel bought in Lungleh or in Haka. 
They are lozenge-shaped, quite plain, and without barbs, 
but with a small mid-rib. The shaft fits into a socket in 
the head, shaped to receive it. The spear-head is heated 
in the fire, and as soon as it is hot enough, lac is put into the 
hole and is melted by the heat. The shaft is then placed 
in the socket and the head is rammed down on to the shaft. 
The lac as it cools coagulates and fixes the head firmly in 
position. The butt consists of an iron spike called seichhi 
affixed with lac in the same way as the head. This spike 
is for sticking into the ground on the side of the path or 
elsewhere when the spear is not in use. Lakher spears 
have no sheaths. 

Spear-heads are kept scrupulously clean, sharpened 
regularly on a stone, and smeared with pig's fat to prevent 
rust. Lakhers have only this one kind of spear, unlike their 
cousins the Lusheis, who have several. 

The most useful weapon both in war and in peace possessed 
by the Lakhers is the single-edged dao called takong, Right- 
handed people use the chachatakong or right-handed dao, and 
left-handed people the chaveitakong or left-handed dao. 
These daos are made in the village forge from steel pur- 
chased from the Haka Chins. The handles are made from 
the root of a bamboo (Melocanna bambusoides). To fix the 
blade to the handle a hole is made in the latter 4 or 5 inches 


deep. This hole is filled with lac, the tang of the blade is 
heated and thrust into the lac, which as it cools hardens 
round the blade tang and holds it firmly in place. The 
taJcong was always carried when going to war, and was used 
for chopping off the heads of the slain. In peace it is used 
for every kind of work : cutting jhums, felling bamboos, 
building houses in fact there is no sort of work for which 
a takong is not practically indispensable. The takong is 
generally carried stuck into the waistband at the back or 
in the bag, but special scabbards of ari cane (Calamus erectus 
Roxb.), with a bone bottom, are sometimes used ; these are 
worn on slings of dried hide or of cane, one in my possession 
having a sling made out of a monkey's tail. The top edge 
of the scabbard is bound round with lac to prevent the dao 
cutting through the cane when it is drawn or sheathed. 
Scabbards are about 1 foot long and 5 inches wide. (Fig- 8, 
p. 62.) Takong are 18 to 22 inches long from the end of 
the handle to the end of the blade. (Fig. 2, p. 47.) 

The vaina is a special ceremonial dao. It was carried to 
war, and used for cutting off heads, but its chief use was in 
ceremonial when dancing the Sawlakia and the other dances 
performed after taking heads. The vaina has a small brass 
handle ornamented with a long tuft of scarlet goat's hair. 
At the point where the scarlet hair joins the handle, small 
tufts of black hair are also inserted. The blade is curved, 
and is 17 inches long. At the handle the blade is 2 inches 
wide, and it gradually widens out to a breadth of 4| inches 
and then tapers down to the point. About 2| inches from 
the end of the blade is a small, sharp protuberance opposite 
the cutting edge. A drawing of a vaina will be found at 
page 47. The vaina is clearly the dao described by Lewin 
as held by the leader of the dance given in his honour in 
Teynwey 's village. l Lakhers do not themselves manufacture 
vaina, but buy them from the Haka Chins. 

The zozi is a handsome sword with a brass-ornamented 
handle and a brass scabbard lacquered in red or black or in 
alternate sections of red and black. This sword was carried 
to war, but it is more a ceremonial than a practical weapon. 

1 Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, pp. 313 and 314. N. E. P. 


A chief visiting a strange village always wears a zozi as a 
sign of his position. They are not made by the Lakhers, 
but are bought from Haka. The blade of a zozi is about 
19 inches long, the length of the whole sword, including the 
handle, is about 30 inches. (Fig. 4, p. 47.) 

The chaizong is a small double-edged knife with a handle 
made of teicho wood (Boehmeria regulosa, Wedd.) and a 
sheath of pazo (Hibiscus macrophyllus, Roxb.), both sheath 
and knife being made in the village. It is used in war for 
stabbing, in times of peace for skinning animals, cutting up 
meat, slicing bamboos, and for numerous other purposes. 
The handle is shaped as desired, a hole is made in it to admit 
the pointed base of the knife, this hole is filled with lac and 
the base of the knife is heated and forced into the hole, 
where it is held tightly by the lac. (Figs. 3 and 5, p. 47.) 

There is yet another kind of dao, called tabeupa, which 
has a double edge. It is really a Haka dao, and before the 
Lakhers knew how to make right-handed and left-handed 
daos, tabeupa were brought from Haka, and, finding them 
useful, the Lakhers copied them. Nowadays the tabeupa is 
falling out of favour, as the people find it easier to use the 
right- and left-handed takong, according as they are right- 
or left-handed. The ordinary right- and left-handed daos 
have a plano-convex edge, only one surface of which is 
sharpened. Thus a right-handed man can cut downwards 
only from the right, and in cutting upwards must deliver 
his blow from the left, the reverse being the case with a 
left-handed man using a left-handed dao. 

The tabeupa was not carried to war, but was kept for cutting 
jhums, house-building, cutting firewood, and such-like 

The ahrei is an axe. It is used for felling trees, cutting 
up firewood, and on occasions as a weapon of defence 
against wounded animals. It is not, however, a weapon 
of war. Axes are made in the village forge. The black- 
smith takes a piece of steel of the right size and places it 
between two pieces of ordinary iron ; the sandwich is tied 
together with cane and the whole is coated thinly all over 
with potter's clay, or with the clay thrown up by termites, 


and placed in the furnace. The blacksmith's attendant plies 
the bellows, and as soon as the iron is red hot the blacksmith 
removes it with his tongs and places it on a stone or another 
piece of iron, and with his hammer welds the iron and steel 
together and hammers the mass into shape, the broad blade 
tapering down into a spike which enters the haft. The 
blade is then sharpened on a hard stone, generally a stone 
brought up from the River Kolodyne, and after this the 
axe-head is again coated with clay and heated to a white 
heat in the furnace, after which it is placed in cold water 
to harden, and is then ready for use. 

The handle is made out of the base of the bamboo (Melo- 
canna bambusoides), cut at the point where the root starts. 
A hole is made through the wide end of the haft, and the 
spike at the base of the axe-head is fixed through this hole. 
If a good piece of bamboo root has been found for the 
handle, these axes last about two years. 

The only remaining tool used by the Lakhers is the atu, 
a small and inefficient iron hoe. This much-overworked 
tool has to perform all the functions of spade, shovel and 
fork. It is used for sowing the seed, weeding the fields, 
digging of all sorts, making roads, and for every kind of 
earthwork. Like the axes, these hoes are home-made, but 
of iron only, without steel, and the handles are of bamboo 
root, the blade being fixed to the handle in the same way 
as the axe-head. (Fig. 10, p. 52.) 

The Lakher axe is easily converted into an adze by 
knocking out the head and replacing it on the haft so that 
the edge is at right angles to the plane of the stroke. This 
is frequently done, and this adze is used for making paths, 
digging graves, excavating the wild yams whose roots are 
found at a great depth below the soil, and for chipping out 
planks from large logs. There is no separate word in the 
language for an adze, both axe and adze are known as ahrei. 

Clubs and maces are unknown. For killing pigs that are 
being slain for food only, and not for a sacrifice, a wooden 
paddy pestle is sometimes used. The pig is hit hard behind 
the ear and dies at once. 

The only purely defensive weapons used are shields, sen, 


and stone shoots. A shield is called veupho. Shields are 
quadrangular, and are made of two or three layers of mitliun 
hide. The upper half of the front of the shield is covered 
with rows of brass discs. In some shields a large brass disc 
is placed in the centre, and above it the rows of small brass 
discs. At the back of the shield is a cane handle. The 
shield shown in the coloured drawing of the warrior at 
page 205 was at Chapi ; the author has one in his possession 
exactly like that shown in the plate at page 207 of J.A.S.B., 
No. Ill, of 1852. Tufts of goat's hair dyed scarlet hang 
from the two top corners of the shield, and also from each 
of the brass discs in the bottom row. 

Sen are sharp bamboo stakes which were planted in the 
paths along which a raiding party was expected. These sen 
are about \\ feet long and sharpened at both ends. A 
trench was dug in the path 2 feet square and \\ feet deep, 
in which about twenty sen were planted in two lines and 
covered with debris and leaves. When the raiders came 
along, the leader's foot was often pierced through in one 
of these traps. Longer sen were sown in the trench sur- 
rounding the village fort, and made an attack very difficult. 
Sen therefore are a very effective weapon of defence. I 
have seen a man's calf pierced right through, and an end 
of the sen sticking out on each side. 


Lakhers have no traditions regarding the use of stone 
implements, and I have not come across celts anywhere in 
the Lushai Hills. There is a certain stone called salong 
(paddy stone) which is very rare, and which is believed to 
ensure to its possessors plentiful harvests. It is said to be a 
very smooth, round stone, and is found in the jungle. A sure 
indication of its presence is a heap of paddy husks in the 
shape of a mole-hill. Anyone finding such a heap of paddy 
husks at once digs down to the salong' 's house below, captures 
it, and takes it home. There, a hen is sacrificed and its 
blood is smeared on the salong, which is then enclosed in a 
small wicker covering and placed in the closed basket in 


which a Lakher keeps his most precious possessions. It is 
believed that if a salong is displeased with its owner it can 
escape and disappear. I have never seen a salong, but the 
belief in it is current in Saiko, Savang and Chapi. Lusheis 
have the same belief and call the stone falung. Fa in Lushei 
means paddy, like sa in Lakher. 1 

There is another stone called awhlong, which means " the 
chicken stone, 55 -which is usually found on river-banks, 
though sometimes also on hill slopes. The awhlong, unlike 
the salong, live on the surface, and not underground. They 
are of different shapes, and always have a hole through 
them. Anyone finding an awhlong runs a string through the 
hole and ties it to the hen basket. So long as it remains in 
his possession his chickens will prosper and multiply. 
Deutha of Saiko has an awhlong which nothing will induce 
him to part with, as he says that if he did so his chickens 
would cease to be fertile and would decrease in numbers. 


Lakhers often tattoo their bodies, but as far as I can 
discover, this tattooing has no religious significance at all, 
and is simply regarded as an embellishment. 

Both men and women are tattooed, and it does not matter 
whether the operation is performed by a man or a woman, 
anyone is allowed to do it. 

Tattoo marks are placed on the arm, the leg, the shoulders, 
and the chest, and the most common marks are a circle (0), 
a cross (X) or signs (VV XXX M.). Young men are fond of 
having mithuns* heads tattooed on their chests. 

The dye used is made by crushing up gunpowder or soot 
with the leaves of the climbing bean. The design is painted 
on the body with the dye, and after this it is worked into 
the skin with a needle. The blood drawn on the first 
pricking is rubbed off, more dye is applied and again pricked 
into the skin and then left to dry. The dye takes about 
three days to dry properly into the skin. The needle now 
used is an ordinary steel needle. Prior to the introduction 

, * All Nagas keep similar stone talismans, which some tribes are very 
unwilling to show. Vide The Sema Nagas s.v. Anagha. J. H. H. 


of needles the Lakhers used the thorns of a lemon tree called 
Isa (Citrus medica, Linn.) or porcupine's quills for pricking 
in the pattern. 1 

Lakhers say that away to the south of their country, near 
the junction of the Tisi river and the Kolodyne, there dwell 
a people called Hmiachipaipa, among whom both men and 
women tattoo their faces, leave the body untattooed, but 
tattoo themselves again from the thighs down to the feet. 
The tattooing is not complete until if they look at a dog it 
barks at them ; unless a dog barks at the sight of them, 
more tattooing has to be done. 

These people are also said to be keen archers, and before 
being regarded as an expert a man has to undergo a sort of 
William Tell test. A paddy-pounding pestle which is about 
9 inches in circumference and 5 feet high is planted in the 
ground. Behind this stands the wife of the archer, who then 
fires at the target. If he succeeds in hitting the target 
without shooting his wife, he is considered to have passed 
with honour, and is allowed to go on raids. It requires 
very straight shooting to do this without hitting the woman, 
as the pestle by no means covers her. I cannot vouch for 
the truth of either of these two stories from personal ex- 
perience, but they are current in all the Lakher villages. 2 
Phayre, 3 writing in 1841, says : " The Khyeng women have 
their faces tattooed in a remarkable manner, and being the 
only tribe who follow this custom, they are easily recognised 
among other people," and Fryer in 1875 writes : 4 " Puberty 
takes place between the ages of twelve and fifteen, at which 
period the disfiguring operation of tattooing the girl's face 
is usually performed." From these two authorities it seems 
that the Khyeng must be the people known to the Lakhers 
as Hmiachipaipa, as the Khyeng country lies to the south 
of the Lakher. 

1 Fijians also used a lemon thorn for this purpose. CJ. A. H. Brewster, 
The Hill Tribes of Fiji, p. 185. N. E. P. 

2 The story about the tattooed people is to be found in a note recorded 
by Mr. C. B. Drake-Brockman at Lungleh on 29th May, 1901. He does 
not, however, mention the archers. N. E. P. 

3 T'hayre, " Account of Arakan," J.A.S.B., 1841, No. 117. N. E. P. 

4 G. E. Fryer, " On the Khyeng People of Sando way Arakan," J.A.S.B., 
1875, Part I. N. E. P. 



LAKHER villages are generally built on some high slope in an 
easily defended position, and not perched on the very hill- 
top, like Lushei villages. Savang is on a hillside which 
slopes up to an inaccessible cliff, on which is a cave whither 
the people retreated in times of trouble, and in which they 
kept their valuables. High sites are always preferred, owing 
to the unhealthiness of low -lying localities. The villages are 
permanent, and are rarely moved, as the Lakhers are at- 
tached to their village sites and dislike abandoning the 
graves of their ancestors. While the Lushei moves his 
village to a new site as soon as he has worked out the sur- 
rounding land, the Lakhcr prefers to keep a permanent 
village and to spend the greater part of the cultivating 
season in a hut built in his field, to which all the able-bodied 
members of the family remove, leaving the old and infirm 
to look after the village. 

The villages are known by their place-names, and not, 
like the Lushei villages, by the name of the chief. The place- 
names generally refer to some natural feature. Thus Saiko 
means " pommelos," there having been many pommelo 
trees on the site when the village was founded. Longphia 
means " stone flat," and there is a large flat stone on the 
site. Longba means " salt hang," the name being due to 
the fact that when troops first came up from Arakan they 
left some of their salt hanging up there in trees to pick up 
on the way back. Vahia is the name of the small hornbill, 
and the village took that name because it is a favourite 
haunt of these birds. Laki means the winding path, and 
the village is so called because the path to it is very winding. 


OF ow or A IN 


Savang means " the wild beast's skin." Longbong means 
the place where a memorial stone was erected. Nangawtla 
means " the hill where the sun was eclipsed " ; long ago, 
when the Hawthais were living on this site, an eclipse of the 
sun took place, from which event came the present name of 
the village. Siaha means " elephants' teeth," and the name 
is due to elephants' teeth having been found on the site. 
Thiahra means " a fan palm " (Borassus flabellifer), and as 
the site was covered with them, the village took the name. 
In the same way, Thiahra Amongbeu got its name because 
the site was covered with fan palms and large bamboos 
(Dendrocalamus sikkimensis). Paitha means "migration 
famous." The village received this name because when Colonel 
Shakespear gave the lands now known as Paitha to Leisai, 
brother of Theulai, chief of Saiko, he ordered a number of 
Saiko houses to migrate and form a village for Leisai. 
Tisongpi means " water scarce." Lateutla is the name of a 
mountain ; it means literally " cotton profit famous," the 
name being derived from the fact that when cotton is grown 
on this hill wonderful crops are obtained. Another mountain 
is called Sawhmong, literally " child got," and the name 
arose from the fact that long ago a woman gave birth to a 
child in the jungle near the top of this mountain. The 
highest hill in the Lakher country is called Pheupi, meaning 
" thatch ground large," the top of the hill being covered 
with thatch grass. It is possible therefore to glean a con- 
siderable amount of information as to the history and 
natural features of the country by a study of the meaning 
of the place-names. 

Before a village can be moved to a new site the omens 
must be taken. To do this some of the elders proceed to 
the site which has been provisionally selected, taking with 
them two cocks. One of these cocks is penned above the 
site selected and the other below. The party make them- 
selves a shelter between the two cocks and spend the night 
there. If the cock which has been penned above the site 
crows first and the lower cock replies, it is a good omen, and 
the site is lucky. If the lower cock crows and the upper 
cock makes no reply, the omen is not so good ; but if the 


lower cock crows and the upper cock replies, it is a bad 
omen, and another site must be found. 1 

In Chapi unless a bird called Beupi (Graucalus Macei) is 
heard to call while the new site for the village is being 
cleared another site must be selected. Before moving to a 
new site the Chapi people perform a sacrifice called Rana, 
which consists of offering a pig to the Kahria mountain. 
On the day of the sacrifice the whole village is pana, and 
the next day the move is made. 

When a village moves to a new site fresh fire has to be 
kindled in the new village. Smouldering bits of wood are 
never carried to the new village to start the fire, which must 
be freshly kindled with flint and steel, or nowadays with 
matches. A fire is first kindled in the middle of the new 
village, and from this each household starts its own fire. It 
is believed that if fire is brought from the old village it will 
bring with it the diseases which were common there. Also 
the old fire, having been used for cooking the flesh of animals 
killed by tigers and funeral meats, is impure, and must not 
be brought to the new village site lest it defile it. All other 
movable possessions are taken from the old to the new 
village ; it is only fire that must be made afresh. Unlike 
some primitive tribes, the Lakhers have no objection to 
using matches to kindle new fire when the old fire has 
become impure. 

The villages are very filthy, being littered with the dung 
of mithun, pigs, and other domestic animals. No attempt 
is made to clean them, and it is only thanks to the voluntary 
scavenging done by the pigs and dogs that they are kept 
even moderately decent, and that the people are not a 
constant prey to serious epidemics. The villages are not laid 
out symmetrically, it is rare to find even one long street, and 
houses are dumped down anywhere according to the fancy 
of the individual builder. There are no rules as to the 
orientation of houses, and while a Lushei village is generally 
arranged in orderly streets, the Lakher village is merely an 
untidy collection of houses straggling over a considerable 

1 The Lusheis take only one cock, and if it crows an hour before day- 
light, all is well. (?/. Shakespear, The Lushei-Kuki Clans, p. 23. N. E. P. 


area, and at unequal distances from each other. The only 
site that is definitely set apart by the chief and elders is a 
flat spot in the centre of the village for the tleulia ground, on 
which the village communal sacrifices are performed. As 
soon as the houses have all been erected and the village 
established, a sacred tree called bongchhi (Ficus geniculata) 
is planted. The chief's house is generally more or less in 
the centre of the village and close to the tleulia ground. The 
reason for this location is that in case of a raid the centre of 
the village is the safest place, and raiders would be less likely 
to penetrate there and injure or kill the chief or cut down 
or mutilate the sacred bongchhi, either of which events would 
bring grave misfortunes upon the village. The villagers 
being left without a head would be like sheep without a 
shepherd, while the felling of the bongchhi means sickness 
and failure of the crops. Chiefs, however, were never 
wittingly killed by Lakhers in war ; it was only if a chief 
was unfortunate enough not to be recognised that he ran 
any risk of death. 

None of the villages are now fortified. In the old days 
every village had its fort or ku, to which the people retired 
on news of a raid. This fort was built in the middle of the 
village, and consisted of a strong stockade of tree-trunks 
and saplings about 10 feet in height. These saplings were 
planted in two or three rows, so as to make the fort bullet- 
proof, and the stockade was loopholed to enable the de- 
fenders to fire. All round the stockade a trench was dug 
and sown with bamboo stakes called sen, and was crossed 
by a drawbridge, which was raised and lowered by cane 
ropes. The women and children were placed in the centre, 
while the warriors manned the walls. No instance is known 
of a fort ever having been stormed, the Lakhers not being 
brave enough to attack a fortified position seriously. Some 
distance from the village the jungle was cut at all vulnerable 
points to render surprise more difficult, and sentry posts 
were established on all the paths to give timely warning. 
The sentry sat up on a high tree, in the branches of which 
a platform with a shelter was made for him to sit in, and 
his duty was to fire a gun as soon as he viewed the enemy 


approaching, to warn all the villagers to go into the fort, 
after which he himself made his way there as best he could. 1 
As a further defence stone traps, called by the Lakhers 
longpa, were built at suitable places on paths approaching 
the village. On the top of a precipitous cliff above the path 
large boulders and stones of all sizes were collected and 
rested against stout bamboo matting or boughs, the whole 
being kept in position by a cane rope, by cutting which the 
rocks could be precipitated on to the path below. Sentries 
were left in charge of the trap, and as soon as the enemy 
were at the right place on the path, the supports were cut 
and the stones rolled down the hillside at a great pace, often 
doing much execution among the attackers. These stone 
traps are used by most of the Assam hill tribes, and I have 
seen them used in the Manipur hills with considerable effect 
by the Kukis. 

The houses are roomy and not uncomfortable. The size 
of a house varies according to the social position of its owner. 
In the verandah are the trophies of the chase skulls of 
bison, bears, sambhur, barking deer, serow, gural, and wild 
boars over which the la ceremony has been performed. 
The chiefs usually have finer collections of trophies than 
commoners, as all animals slain by their dependants are 
claimed by the chief as of right, and count as though the chief 
himself had shot them. In the Savang chief's house I found 
a magnificent mithun head, which when measured proved 
larger in some respects than any recorded in Rowland Ward's 
book. I persuaded the chief to sell it to me, and it is now 
in Aijal club. This mithun was shot below Laid some 
twenty-five years ago by one of the Savang chief's slaves. 
As the present chief is entirely neglecting his collection of 
heads, I was very fortunate to find this head before it was 
spoilt. In the old days bison were numerous, and fine 
heads were obtained ; now, however, they are scarce, and 
may not be shot without permission. Elephants, too, used 

1 Cf. John Macrae, " Account of the Kookies or Lunctas," Asiatic 
Researches, VII, 1801, p. 187. Perhaps the statement " when day over- 
takes them, they halt and lie concealed in a kind of hammock, which they 
fasten among the branches of the loftiest trees " really refers to these 
sentry posts, N. E. P. 


to be hunted in the flat lands on the banks of the Sulla river, 
and old skulls and bones are carefully preserved by the family 
of any one fortunate enough to have bagged one. This, too, 
however, is a sport of the past, and can only be indulged in 

Along the main beam which runs right across the verandah 
are hung the gongs and powder-flasks owned by the family. 
The gongs, which are made in Burma, are of all sizes, and are 
greatly valued by the Lakhers ; they are the favourite 
musical instruments for accompanying dancing and singing, 
and are also given in part payment of marriage prices. The 
powder-flasks are made of mithun's horn, and are ornamented 
with patterns in red and black lacquer and white metal. If 
the family owns a vaina, the ceremonial dao used when 
dancing the Sawlakia, or a zozi, the ceremonial sword, these, 
too, are hung up with the gongs. This array of gongs 
and swords constitutes the only attempt at adornment 
in a Lakher house, the best collection I have seen being 
in the house of the chief of Chapi. 

Ceremonies Performed when Building a New House. 

When a man is going to build a new house, the first thing 
he does is to take out the anahmang, the sacred vessels used 
for the Khazangpina sacrifice, and hang them up carefully 
in a tree in his garden or outside the village, so as to ensure 
that they shall not be defiled. As soon as the anahmang 
have been safely disposed of, the old house is pulled down, 
a hut is put up to shelter the family while building operations 
are in progress, and work on the new house is started. While 
this work is going on and the anahmang remain hung up in a 
tree, the house-builder must not go to a wake nor attend a 
funeral, must not eat of any animal killed by a wild animal 
nor any food that has rotted. If he does so the anahmang 
which are dedicated to Khazangpa are defiled, which brings 
ill luck, and fresh anahmang will have to be made. As soon 
as the new house is finished, the family make a ceremonial 
entry. The oldest member leads the way, and, having 
climbed up the ladder, he holds out a hoe, which each member 


of the family in turn catches hold of, and is thus led into the 
house. The iron hoe is symbolical of strength, and the object 
of this ceremony is to ensure, on the principles of sympathetic 
magic, that the members of the family shall be strong and 
healthy in the new house and that the house itself shall 
endure. That day a fowl is sacrificed, or, if the householder 
is a rich man, he may kill pigs or mithun and give a feast. 
A man who builds a large house and gives a sufficiently 
magnificent feast to the villagers is entitled to wear the 
tail-feathers of a bird called siasi in his hair. The siasi 
bird lives on river banks, but is rare, and I have not been 
able to identify it. A mithun is killed for the feast. A ring 
is made outside the house and strewn thickly with bran, and 
in the evening the young men hold wrestling contests, and 
then go into the house and sing songs and drink. In Siaha, 
the day a man enters his new house he cuts shavings off all 
the posts and bamboos and places them together and 
sacrifices a fowl on them. This is to make the posts and 
bamboos last. The day after the formal entry into the 
house is aoh, and no work is done by the family. Next day 
the house-builder goes to the river and nets some small fish, 
which he takes home with him together with some pebbles 
from the river-bed. The fish are symbolical of cleanliness 
and health, and the pebbles of strength. The fish are cooked 
and eaten, and the pebbles are thrown about inside the 
house against the walls, and the house-builder says,. " May 
the posts that I have erected and the walls that I have built 
be as strong as these stones, and may the wind not blow 
my house away." After this the anahmang are brought 
inside the house and the Khazangpina sacrifice is per- 

In Savang, on entering a new house, a pig is sacrificed 
when the moon is waning. The anahmang and the pig's 
head are taken inside the house, but no Khazangpina is 
performed. There is no aoli, but until a new moon has risen 
the house-builder must not eat the meat of an animal killed 
by a wild animal, nor rotten fish, and must not go to a 

When a man has built a new house and killed a pig or a 


mithun for the house-warming ceremony he sometimes asks 
his pupa (mother's brother) to bless the foundations of the 
house, a ceremony which is called angtongnai, which means 
literally " house-post make firm." The pupa has to kill a 
pig of three or four fists and give it with some sahma beer 
to his sister's son, who, in return, must give his pupa a 
present. If the house-builder is a commoner, he gives ten 
rupees or a beerpot (racha) ; if a noble, thirty rupees or a 
gong of seven spans ; if a chief, forty rupees or a gong of 
eight spans, or even a mithun. The partial pana or taboo 
which must be observed during and after the building of a 
new house applies to all the members of the house-builder's 
family who live in his house. 

Details of House. 

The details of a Laklier house are shown in the plan on 
page 70. An ordinary house is usually about 15 feet broad 
by 30 feet long, and consists of a front verandah, a main 
room, a back room, and a closet for relieving nature. The 
orientation of $ house is of no great importance, but usually 
houses are built so as to face on to the street. The first 
thing done is to erect the outer posts, of which in an ordinary 
house there are fifteen. The posts, for which the woods 
preferred are asi (Castanopsis tribuloides) and patongpa 
(Lagerstroemia flos reginae), are planted at very short 
intervals, and are numerous, considering the size of the houses, 
as, owing to the frequent hurricanes which visit the Lakher 
country from the middle of April until July, unless the 
houses are strongly built they are liable to be blown away. 
As soon as the outer posts angtong have been erected, cross- 
beams of pazo wood (Hibiscus macrophyllus, Roxb.) or of 
some other straight wood are laid from post to post to support 
the floor, which is generally 4 or 5 feet from the ground. 
Notches are made in the posts for the cross-beams khapia to 
rest on, and they are also tied on tightly with cane. Long 
bamboos called chahri, either rasang (Bambusa Tulda, Roxb.) 
or rahniapa (Dendrocalamus Hookeri, Munro) are laid over 
the cross-beams the whole length of the house, with about 


4 inches between each, and are tied on to the cross-beams 
with cane. A floor of bamboo matting is then placed over 
the beams. The walls, which are also made of bamboo 
matting, are then erected against the posts and tied on to 
them with cane. The bamboo used for both floor and walls 
is ramaw (Melocanna bambusoides). At the top of each wall 
a long sapling called palai runs the length of the house. It 
is tied on to the posts, and serves to strengthen the walls 
and also to hold down the roof. After this wooden beams 
(pakong) are run from the top of each post to the top of the 
post opposite and tied on firmly with cane. Three higher 
forked posts called asu are then erected in the middle of the 
house, one at each end and one at the centre. These are to 
support the ridge-pole (pathlong), which runs along the whole 
length of the house and rests on the forked poles, to which 
it is attached securely with cane rope. From the ridge-pole 
wooden rafters (seiha), run down to the top of the wall. One 
end of each rafter is tied with cane to the ridge-pole and the 
other end to the palai or wall plate. Above and across the 
rafters bamboos called angveu are run the whole length of 
the house and tied on to the rafters, then above and across 
these bamboos others called keipai are placed parallel to the 
rafters from the ridge-pole to the palai (wall plate) and tied 
on securely at each end. The roof, which is then constructed 
on the top of this framework, consists of several layers of 
a palm called bahro (Calamus erectus), failing which the 
leaves of the thiahra palm (Borassus flabellifer) or bamboo 
leaves are used. The leaves are protected by a covering of 
stout bamboo matting, which is kept in place by long 
bamboos, called angveu, laid over it and fastened to the 
row of angveu bamboos inside the roof by cane ropes, which 
are passed inside through the roof. It is astonishing to find 
what secure and water-tight houses can be constructed with 
these simple materials. The outer shell of the house is now 
finished. The kahmi, a wooden ladder made of one log of 
wood with rough steps cut in it, is next set up. Three 
hearths have to be made in each house, one in the verandah 
for strangers and for use when a feast is being held, one in 
the main room where all the household cooking is done, and 


one in the back room for heating purposes only. The young 
men and girls gather round this third hearth at night, sing 
songs, make love, and eventually sleep near it. The hearths 
are made of soil, which is enclosed in a square made from 
split logs and trampled down till it is quite hard. Three 
stones arc arranged on the hearth to support the cooking-pots. 
Above the hearth is a rack of bamboo matting called pachong, 
on which meat and fish are smoked, and the paddy to be 
husked next morning is thoroughly dried before pounding. 
On the pachong are also kept fire-wood to dry, cooking-pots, 
spoons, etc. As there is only one cooking place, meat is 
cooked first, and kept warm by the fire while the rice is 
cooking. The use of only three stones on this hearth to 
hold the cooking-pots is an instance of the conservatism of 
the people ; the only reason that they give for not using more 
is that they do what their forefathers did before them. A 
narrow space is then shut off at the back of the house for 
sanitary purposes. Unlike the Lusheis, the Lakhers do not 
bother to go outside the village for relieving nature, but use 
this closet at the back of the house, which makes their 
villages far more insanitary than Lushei villages. A parti- 
tion wall is run three-quarters of the way across the middle 
of the house to shut off the front room from the back room. 
In the back wall of the house a window is cut. This is the 
only window in the house, none being cut in the side walls ; 
Lakher houses are therefore dark, but as the mat walls and 
floor are very draughty, there is plenty of air. The bed, 
which consists of wooden planks in the Savang and Chapi 
groups and of bamboo matting in the other villages, is 
placed in the main room between the hearth and the wall, 
and against the left-hand wall of the main room as it is 
entered is a shelf for pots and pans. A sliding bamboo door 
is then erected. The house is now complete, and the family 
take up their abode. The average family consists of about 
five persons, though one may find as many as ten persons in 
one house when a son of the house has married and has not 
set up a house of his own. As a rule a man sets up a house 
of his own as soon as his first child is born. 



Chiefs House. 

The chiefs have much larger houses than the common 
people, and their subjects have to build their houses for 
them. A chief's house is about 25 feet wide and 100 feet 
long, and is constructed on the same lines as a commoner's 
house. While the floors are of matting, the walls are made 
of wooden planks. Chiefs have special doors to their houses 
called pako. A round opening is cut in the planked wall 
and closed by heavy wooden doors, which are hung on 
wooden hinges. These doors can be effectively secured 
inside with wooden bolts. Commoners are not entitled to 
use these doors. The interior of a chief's house is the same 
as already described, except that there are three rooms. 
The first and second rooms are partitioned off into separate 
small chambers, each with its own hearth and each occupied 
by a family of the chief's retainers, who do all their own 
cooking and eat and sleep apart from the chief's family. 
The chief himself and his family live in the back room. A 
chief's house is further differentiated from a commoner's by 
having a large courtyard in front of it, which is fenced in 
with a wooden paling called piali. A wooden or bamboo 
platform called aitla runs the whole of one side of the 
courtyard. The aitla is used for sitting out and taking 
the air, and when the chief gives a feast the villagers all 
gather on the aitla to watch the dancing and to drink. 

The diagram which follows shows the position of the 
various fittings of a house. The Lakher names of the 
fittings are also given. 







1. Angpeu . Window. 

2. Chhongcha Closet used for relieving nature. 

3. V along . Hearth. Lesser hearth near which daughters sleep, and 

also young men if any sleep in the house. 

4. Thlakai . Shelf for pots, plates, etc. 

5. Chhongpa- Partition between the two rooms. 

6. Chakangpi Main hearth used for cooking. 

7. Rakhong . The bed used by the householder, his wife and children. 

8. Beipari . Earthen pot for storing rice. 

9. Ti awng The place where the water tubes are kept. 


10. Angchhi . The door on to the verandah. 

11. Awhchari The hen basket. 

1 2. Rongkho . Paddy mortar. 

13. Ronykhai . Pestle. 

14. Thangia . Firewood. 

15. Kahmi . Ladder. 
10. Angka . Verandah. 

17. Sakei . A ring of cane about 5 inches in diameter used for resting 

cooking-pots on to prevent the soot on them from 
blackening the floor. 

18. CJiaichi . Bamboo tongs used for making up the fire. A split bamboo 

about 2 feet long is shaved very thin in the middle and 
bent over carefully into the shape of a pair of tongs, 
tied with cane and left for a day or two so that it may 
dry into shape. As soon as it is dry the cane is cut and 
the tongs are ready for use. 

19. tiongphi . A hollow bamboo tube used instead of bellows for blowing 

down to make the fire blaze. 

20. Angphi . Broom made out of a bunch of the flowers of the tall 

pampas grass (Thysanolaena agrostw, Nees) tied together 
with cane and used for sweeping the house. 

Articles of Household Use. 

Lakhers are not troubled with many possessions bamboo 
and cane-baskets, a few earthenware plates, gourd spoons, 
and the simplest of weaving and agricultural implements 
comprise the whole of their household goods, save for cloths, 
weapons and ornaments. The list below gives the Lakher 
names of the principal articles of daily use with a brief 
description of each. 

Baitarupa . A large bamboo basket which is kept either inside the 

house or on the verandah, and is used for storing paddy 

or cotton. 
Baikal . . A bamboo basket used for carrying paddy, and carried by 

the harvesters when gathering the paddy. 
Kachu . . A bamboo basket in which paddy or rice is placed ready 

for use. 
Saikhua . . A bamboo basket, shaped like a kachu t but smaller, and 

used as a spoon to take paddy or rice out of larger 

Bara ... A round bamboo tray used for cleaning and drying rice. 



Sanghri . . A square bamboo tray used for cleaning rice. The rice is 
first winnowed on the bara, and the refuse falls on to 
the sanghri. It is also used for drying tobacco and spices. 

Aphi ... A bamboo or cane mat used for drying paddy and also 
used for sleeping on. 

Viakuaritia . A sieve used for cleaning rice. The fine bran is used as 
pig's food ; the coarse bran is thrown away. 

Tlabai . . A bamboo basket used as a paddy measure both when 
selling and when paying a chief's sabai. A tlabai is 
commonly known as a bai. 

Pawkho . . A bamboo plate on a bamboo plinth used as a plate for rice. 

Dawkia . . A bamboo basket used by women for carrying wood or 
water tubes. 

Lawbu . . A bamboo basket used by men for carrying anything. 

Hrabeu . . An open-work bamboo basket used for carrying large 
articles, tho same as the Lushei bawmrang. 

Cheupapa . . A basket like a lawbu, but smaller, used by men for carrying 
small articles. 

Chanongscihna A cane rope used by women as a brow-band when carrying. 

Chapawseihna A cane rope used by men as a combined shoulder- and 
brow-band when carrying. 

Baiba . . A covered basket used for keeping cloths, money and 
valuables, made of either bamboo or cane. The baiba 
is much smaller than the Lushei thul. 

Mangkhawpa. A basket like a dawkia, but lighter, used for carrying things 
by women. 

Bongtong . . A very small basket in which the women keep their thread 
while weaving. 

Phavaw-pawkho This is a round, open basket about 2J inches high. The 
edges of tho basket are folded over backwards and con- 
tinued down to the bottom. It is used for the rice to be 
eaten by a person performing the Khazangpina sacrifice, 
and for no other purpose. 

Au'hbcu . . A square bamboo basket about 1 J feet high used for a hen 
and her brood. The basket has a small wooden or 
bamboo sliding door, which is closed at night. In the 
morning paddy and rice are dropped outside tho door, 
which is opened to let tho hen out. In the evening the 
food is placed inside, and when the hen and her brood 
have all gone in, the door is closed. The basket is kept 
on the verandah. 

Au'hchari . This is another kind of fowl basket in which the hens that 
have no encumbrances are kept. It is made of bamboo, 
and is about 6 feet long and 1J feet high. The basket 
is round, and rather resembles a bamboo fish -trap, being 
entirely closed at the far end, and having a wooden 
sliding door at the other. A long stick is run through 
the whole length of the basket, by which it is hung up 
under the eaves of the house. From the door a ladder 
runs to the ground for the fowls to walk up and down 
when they are shut up at dusk and let out in the morning. 

Sakeu . . A wooden trough about 4 feet long, 1 foot wide, and 1J feet 
deep, which is kept beneath the eaves in the rainy season 
to collect the rain water and save the women from going 
to draw water from the spring. 
Bei . . . An earthen cooking.pot. 

Beikang . . An earthenware saucer used as a plate for cooked vege- 
tables and also as a lid for the bei. 

Thangkang . A wooden plate standing on a pedestal, the plate and 
pedestal being cut out of one block of wood. 


Phiatla . . A gourd spoon used for pouring water. (Fig. 1, p. 91.) 

Saitlei. . . A bamboo spoon used for stirring rice or anything else 
that is being cooked (cf. Fig. 7, p. 91). 

Sathawng awng A gourd used for storing the pig's fat which Lakhers use as 
hair grease. 

Beipari . . An earthenware pot about 18 inches high, used for storing 
rice. It holds about three days' food for a family. 

Bettsaro . . A small open-work basket in which the spoons are kept. 

Dapi ... A large bamboo tray on which paddy is spread out to dry 
in the sun. 

Lakhu . . A woman's hat made from bamboos and palm leaves used 
as a protection from the rain. 

Atu ... A small hoe used for weeding fields, digging and making 
paths. Lakhers have no spades, picks or forks, and 
apart from daos and axes the atu is the only agricultural 
implement they possess. The amount of work they 
manage to do with this wretched little tool is surprising. 

Rahathua . A spindle. 

Kihlong . . A thread winder. 

Lari . . . An instrument for cleaning cotton. 

Daily Life. 

While a Lakher cannot be said to suffer from overwork, 
his day is always full, and he has no opportunity of ex- 
periencing the boredom of having nothing to do. As is 
generally the case with the Assam hill tribes, the women 
are on the whole busier than the men. The entire tribe lives 
by agriculture, and the daily routine is governed by the 
seasons. They rise at dawn, being awakened by the noise 
of the domestic animals, mithun, fowls, and pigs, that sleep 
under the house. The women at once pound out the rice 
required for the day in a wooden mortar hollowed out of a 
block of wood, and known as a songkho, the wooden pestle 
being called songkhai. Having pounded and winnowed the 
rice, they put the breakfast on to cook, let out the fowls, 
and go off to the spring to draw water. The water is carried 
in bamboo tubes. These are smaller than those used by 
Lusheis, and, unlike the Lushei water-tubes, which are open 
at the top, the Lakher tubes are closed, an inlet for the water 
being cut in the side at the top of the tube. These water- 
tubes hold less water and are less easy to handle than the 
Lushei tubes ; they have the advantage, however, of keeping 
the water cleaner. The Lakhers call their own tubes 
" female water- tubes " and the other kind " male water- 
tubes/' The genuine Lakher tube is made out of one section 


of the large bamboo, and a piece of bamboo is left sticking 
up on the top for a handle. To clean a water-tube, they put 
in a handful of pebbles and shake them up and down with 
water until they have rubbed the inside of the tube quite 
clean. The water is always drawn from a stream or spring, 
wells being unknown. A rough basin is sometimes made 
with stones to allow the water to collect, as during the dry 
weather water is scarce in many villages ; and this is fenced 
with bamboos to prevent the cattle fouling the water. 
Some villages, notably Savang, which has an abundant 
water supply, run the water through the village in bamboo 
pipes, each house joining its own pipe system on to the 
main pipe. In this way a constant supply of running water 
is maintained which saves the women many weary journeys 
to the spring. 

Breakfast over, the work of the day begins. The men go 
off to the jhum or to hunt or fish, according to the season of 
the year. The women collect the firewood and draw the 
water. If they have nothing else to do, they weave, but 
when the crops are growing they are fully employed in 
weeding and cleaning the fields, and later on with the harvest. 
The men cut the jhums, build and repair the houses, and 
help in all the work going on in the fields. They also make 
all the baskets, set traps for birds, beasts and fish, cut the 
paths and keep the surroundings of the village free from 
jungle. Men never weave, make matting, nor dye cloth. 
It is ana for men to weave, and it is believed that a man who 
weaves will contract consumption and will be unable to 
shoot game, and that no animals will fall into his traps. 
It is ana for men to dye cloths. It is not ana for them to 
make pottery, but actually they never do potter's work. 

In the evening the women again draw water, feed the pigs 
on bran and broken rice, secure them and the fowls for the 
night, and then prepare the evening meal. After dusk the 
women spin ; they cannot see to weave, as the only light in 
a Lakher house is that of the fire. People who go visiting 
at night use bamboo torches. The young bloods go off 
to the houses of the girls they favour, and it is usual 
for a young man to sleep in the house of the girl he is 


courting, the Lakhers having no bachelors' house, like the 
Lusheis. The men gather in any house in which beer is 
going, and sing songs and talk. On the whole both men 
and women have a pretty full day. One often hears it 
said that primitive people are lazy because they do not 
choose to work for money ; such statements are generally 
quite erroneous, and, as a matter of fact, though the Lakhers 
are less industrious than the Lusheis, if they did not work 
hard they could not get enough food. Jhuming involves 
strenuous labour on the part of both men and women, and 
even when not engaged in agriculture neither men nor women 
are ever really idle. The women devote all their spare time 
to weaving, and the men hunt and fish ; not simply for 
amusement, but in order to add to an otherwise meagre and 
unvaried diet. It would be hard to find busier people than 
an average village community in the hills. 


The Lakher methods of agriculture are most primitive. 
The only tools they possess are a small inefficient hoe, a dao 
and an axe. All crops arc grown injhums. The area to be 
used for jhums for the year having been selected, the jungle, 
whether it be bamboos or trees, is all cut down and left to 
dry. When thoroughly dry it is set on fire ; the fiercer the 
blaze the better, as the fire kills all insects and destroys their 
eggs and renders sterile the seeds of weeds and jungle plants, 
while the wood or bamboo ashes form a valuable manure. 
The logs that have not burnt are then cleared to one side 
and used for fencing the field, which is then ready for sowing. 
Though this method of cultivation is very wasteful of timber 
and bamboos, it is the only form of cultivation that can be 
followed in this country. The hills are too steep and water 
is too scarce to allow of terraced cultivation. Colonel Lewin 
in one of his books writes about the Lakhers : * " I am told 
that they do not cultivate with the dao in joom fashion, but 
are acquainted with the method of terrace cultivation 
common among the Himalayan tribes ; they use a large 

i T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, p. 282. N. E, P. 


heavy hoe in breaking up the land for seed." As far as I 
can ascertain, the Lakhers never had any knowledge of 
terraced cultivation and have no large hoes. Phayre l says : 
" They work with hoes or spades not ploughs," and makes 
no mention of terraced cultivation, though he says that 
much of their cultivation is in elevated plains and com- 
paratively broad valleys which admit of continued cultiva- 
tion. Both these writers must, I think, have been mis- 
informed. The fields are only used for one year, as if they 
are cultivated for two years in succession, the bamboos and 
the trees die out and the land is rendered useless for cultiva- 
tion. Whenever possible a,jhum is left for eight or ten years 
before it is used again, but most villages have insufficient 
land to enable them to leave the fields fallow for so long, 
and have to return to the old jhums after five or six years. 
When land is scarce, and sufficiently long intervals of rest 
cannot be arranged, the jungle gradually deteriorates and 
crops follow suit. 

In other parts of the Lushai Hills district, where the 
population is denser, the situation is only saved by the 
eupatorium, which grows very rapidly and can be jhumed 
without detrimental effect every two or three years. As 
yet the Lakher villages have plenty of jhuming land, and 
the eupatorium has not appeared. There is, indeed, no need 
for it at present ; so long as the bamboos and trees remain 
it is far better that there should be no eupatorium, as it is 
useless for any other purpose save jhuming, and bamboos 
and trees meet innumerable needs. As an alternative to 
thatch grass, which generally appears when land has been 
over-jhwmed, eupatorium deserves a hearty welcome, as land 
on which thatch grass has established itself is quite useless 
for cultivation. The cultivating season is split into well- 
defined parts, and as the Lakhers depend entirely on their 
crops for a livelihood, it is not surprising to find that each 
part of the season is marked by religious observances and 
sacrifices, intended to ensure the well-being of the crops. 
The Lakher's agricultural year begins in December, when 
the chief and elders of the village decide what place shall be 

1 Phayre, " Account of Arakan," J.A.S.B., 1841, No. 117. N. E. P. 


used for the jhums for the ensuing year. Having decided 
what slopes are to be cut, they inform the villagers, and 
each householder goes out to select his jhum. Any villager 
who had had jhums on the slopes selected last time they 
were cut takes his old jhum, villagers who have never jhumed 
these slopes before make their selection from the land left 
over. When they annex their jhums, those persons whose 
fields march together lay down a boundary between their 
respective jhums ; they then go together and cut the bamboos 
and trees along the boundary line as high as they can, 
generally about 5 feet above the ground. These bamboo 
and tree stumps are left standing when the rest of the 
jungle is felled, and, being still green, they do not get de- 
stroyed when the jhum is burnt. They serve as boundary 
posts for the rest of the year. 

On the day he selects his jhum each man cuts a small 
patch. This is done in order that the spirit of the place may 
know which plot each man proposes to cut, and may inform 
him by means of good or bad dreams whether the patch 
selected is favourable. 1 If on the night after he has selected 
his jhum a man dreams of clear water, fish, paddy, cooked 
rice or a human corpse, his dreams have been good, and the 
place selected for a jhum is considered to be favourable ; if, 
on the other hand, a man dreams of an animal that has been 
killed by a tiger, a broken dao or axe, a dead domestic animal, 
dirty water, or of some one stealing his pigs or fowls, the 
dream is unfavourable, and another site must be chosen. 
The place for the jhum having been decided on, the jhum 
is cut in January or February, and while cutting his jhum 
the Lakher sleeps in the jungle, unless it is so close to the 
village that he can cut it from there. When the jhums have 
been half cut, the cultivators return to the village, and all 
those who have jhums on the same slope join together and 
perform the Bialongchhi sacrifice. The day after this 
sacrifice is aoh, arid no work can be done. After the aoh 
they all go back and finish cutting the jhums. When the 

1 The Garos do the same. Cf. Playfair, The Qaros, p. 93. N. E. T. 
The Aos employ this method for selecting the site of their field house. 
Vide Mills, The Ao Nagae, p. 110. J. H. H. 


jhums have all been cut, each household subscribes a pot of 
beer, and all those whose jhums are on one slope bring their 
beer to the house of one of their number for the feast. The 
man in whose house the feast is held supplies a pig ; there 
is much drinking of beer and singing of songs ; the young 
men and girls dance the Pakupila dance and generally make 
merry. This feast is called Khutla, and lasts for two days. 
Having cut their jhums, the villagers have nothing more to 
do till the middle of March or the beginning of April, when 
the jhums are burnt. The day after the jhums have been 
burnt there is one day's pana, called Meisapana, and no one 
does any work. The day after the Meisapana, the Leuh- 
rangna sacrifice is performed near the fields, the persons who 
have their fields on the same hill combining to perform this 
sacrifice, after which there is an aoh of one day if a fowl was 
sacrificed, and two days if the sacrifice was a pig. After 
the aoh a small house in which the workers will live during 
the cultivating season is built in each jhum, and they start 
sowing their maize, millet, cucumbers, pumpkins, and other 
vegetables, and then, after the full moon of the month of 
Pachaw, towards the end of April, they sow their paddy, the 
ground being scratched with a hoe and about ten seeds 
being dropped into each scratch. The seeds are left un- 
covered, as the heavy rain soon washes the earth over them. 
After the full moon of Pachaw is the most favourable time 
for sowing paddy, as at that time birds and rats do little 
damage to the seed, whereas if the seed is sown in the 
month of P along a great deal of it is eaten by these pests. 
When the paddy is all sown, the Sachipachhua sacrifice is 
performed by the owner of each jhum near his jhum house. 
The day on which this sacrifice is performed is pana, and 
no work may be done. In some of the villages they pull 
up the weeds for the first time when sowing the seed, but 
the Zeuhnang and Sabeu have not adopted this practice. 
The crops have to be weeded two or three times during the 
rains. The number of weedings required depends on whether 
the jhums have burnt well or not. If the jhums have burnt 
fiercely, most of the seeds of the weeds will have been 
destroyed, and there will be only a poor crop of weeds. If, 


however, the jhums have burnt badly, owing to untimely 
rains, jungle growths spring up in myriads, and weeding will 
be a very strenuous job. 

As soon as the paddy has all germinated, the first weeding 
is done, and from this time till the weeding is finished the 
people live in their jhum houses, leaving only the old and 
those who are unable to work in the village. The first 
weeding is called Mawkeipa, and as soon as this weeding is 
finished the Chithla sacrifice is performed, after which there 
is an aoh of two or three days. Then at the end of July or 
the beginning of August comes the second weeding, called 
Leuchapa. By this time the millet and the maize are getting 
ripe, and while the second weeding is in progress the millet 
and the maize have also to be harvested. This is probably 
the busiest time of the year. The third weeding of the jhums 
takes place in September, and is called Hrohrapa. During 
this weeding the Sahrisa sacrifice is performed. 

In October the tobacco and spices are gathered and laid 
out in the sun to dry. From the end of October the villagers 
begin to harvest the paddy. The paddy is pulled up by the 
roots, not cut with a sickle, and is tied up in sheaves and left 
for two or three days to dry. Work goes on all day, and often 
at night also by torchlight, and they generally finish pulling 
up the paddy by about the middle of November. The pulling 
up of the paddy is called saphia. When this has been 
finished, they make a threshing-floor (chapu) near the jhum 
house, and as soon as it is ready, the cultivator personally 
goes round the field with a small basket and collects a little 
of each kind of paddy that is growing in the field ; a little 
maize is added, and the grain is placed on a tray in a corner 
of the threshing-floor. The owner of the field then performs 
the Leuhmathawna sacrifice by killing a red or black hen over 
the tray which holds the paddy, the hen's blood being allowed 
to drop on the paddy. The sacrifice is to the spirits of the 
paddy and maize, to whom the sacrificer intones a chant. 

After the sacrifice, the cultivator and his family return to 
the field, gather one or two large basketfuls of paddy, and 
deposit the grain on the threshing-floor. After this they 
stop work, and cook and eat the fowl. From the next 


morning the harvest begins in earnest. The actual gathering 
of the paddy is called sachakeu, which means " the beating 
of the paddy/' The harvesters go round with a basket, 
which they place at the foot of each sheaf. Each of them 
has a small stick in his hand ; he takes a bunch of ears in 
his left hand, and hits them with the stick till they have all 
fallen into the basket. One of the men carries round a large 
basket to each harvester in turn, collects what they have 
gathered and deposits it on the threshing-floor. Next 
morning they continue to collect the paddy, and if after they 
have been gathering the paddy for a day or two the crop 
does not come up to expectations, another fowl or a mole 
is sacrificed, after which there is one day's aoh, and then 
they continue gathering in the paddy till it has all been 
collected. When the paddy has all been gathered in, and 
placed on the threshing-floor, the ears of paddy are trampled 
on till the empty husks and straw refuse have been separated 
from the true grain. The grain is then cleaned again on 
bamboo trays before being placed in the granary. Another 
method of cleaning the paddy is called sahrualua, which 
means literally " paddy winnow high." A platform about 
10 feet high, with a bamboo floor, is erected over the thresh- 
ing-ground. The middle of the floor is cut out so as to leave 
a hole about 3 feet square, which is covered with a bamboo 
sieve. When a basket of paddy is ready to be winnowed 
it is handed up on to the platform and poured on to the sieve, 
where it is trampled on and worked with the hands till it 
falls through on to the threshing-floor below. The good 
grain, being heavy, falls straight down on to the heap below, 
and the empty husks are blown away by the wind. On a 
still day men stand below with bamboo trays and fan away 
the husks. When all the paddy has been collected, a 
granary (sawva) is built about half-way between the jhum 
and the village. The paddy is carried up and stored in the 
granary, and when all the paddy has been stored safely a 
sacrifice called Sikisa is performed. For this sacrifice a 
white cock is killed near the jhum house. All the villagers 
do this sacrifice on the same day, the object being to ensure 
that the cultivator's soul shall return with him to his house, 




and shall not remain near the jhums. On the day when the 
Sikisa sacrifice is performed they all go back to their houses 
in the village, and the next day is aoh, and no work of any 
sort must be done. About a month later the Sawva Awthi 
sacrifice is performed in the granary to the soul of the rice. 
The harvest is not finally gathered in till between the end 
of December and the middle of January, earlier if the 
weather is favourable, and later if it rains during the harvest. 
The Lakhers therefore are more or less busy the whole year 
round with agriculture. October and February are about 
the slackest times. On the whole, save for the Tlongsais, 
who are idle and make very small jhums, they are industrious 
cultivators, the villages in the newly administered area being 
especially so. The Savang people always seem to have 
excellent crops, and make larger fields than those villages 
which have been under British rule for years. The chiefs 
set an example to their people by making jhums and working 
themselves, unlike the Lushei chiefs, who never do any 
work, and live on the tribute paid them by their villagers. 
The Savaiig chief and his family are reputed to be the most 
hard-working people in the village. They spend the rains 
in their jhum house, like any ordinary villager, and their 
out-turn of paddy is always one of the highest in the village. 
The Lakher method of harvesting is clumsy and laborious ; 
the paddy stands late in the fields, a prey to birds and rats. 
It would save the Lakher a lot of time and trouble if he cut 
the paddy, as the Lusheis do, instead of first pulling up the 
plant by the roots, and then beating the grain off the plants ; 
but he is very conservative, and prefers his old ways to new- 
fangled methods. A few villages are adopting the Lushei 
method, but all the villages in the Savang and Chapi groups 
and several others follow the old way. The main crop is 
rice, of which there are many varieties ; both white and red 
are grown, but the former is preferred. The varieties known 
by the Lusheis as buhpui and konglong are the commonest. 
Cotton is grown with the rice for domestic use, but now that 
they are beginning to find that cotton has a ready sale, 
separate cotton-fields are sometimes planted. In among 
the rice they also grow millet, pumpkins, cucumbers and 


other vegetables. Each house always has a patch of maize 
and also patches of tobacco and indigo, the latter being used 
for dyeing the cloths. Potatoes have been introduced, and 
one or two villages are growing them successfully. Sesamum 
is grown in patches for sale to the Arakanese. One of the 
greatest troubles the Lakher has, is in preventing wild 
animals from destroying his crops, the worst offenders being 
bears and wild pig, who do far more damage than the deer. 
To drive these raiders away from the fields the Lakher rigs 
up a contrivance called raineu. A long cane is run from the 
jhum house to the far end of the jhum, where a forked stick 
is planted in the ground. A bamboo is split three-quarters 
of the way down, but the halves are not separated. The 
lower half of the bamboo is attached to the forked stick, the 
upper half is tied to the cane rope, and its base is fixed into 
the ground with a bamboo peg. The cultivator sits in his 
jhum house comfortably and pulls the string, thereby 
clapping the two halves of bamboo together. This makes 
a horrible din, and frightens away the raiders. 

Another contrivance for frightening away wild animals is 
called tekaleu, in imitation of the sounds emitted from it. 
A tekaleu is a wooden gong which is played on with two 
sticks. It is made out of a log of wood about 2 feet long, 
which is hollowed out in the shape of a trough. The sticks 
are also of wood, and about 1| feet in length. Every jhum 
house is provided with a tekaleu, which is played on day and 
night to frighten away marauders from the crops. When in 
use the tekaleu is laid on one side on the floor and the upper 
side is beaten with the wooden sticks, one held in each hand. 1 


The Lakhers usually have three meals a day a breakfast 
first thing in the morning, a lunch at noon, and an evening 
meal about sundown. When working in the fields or on a 
journey they carry cooked rice wrapped up in plantain 

1 A similar instrument, a wooden gong, that is it has no membrane is 
used by the Kachha Nagas, who make it with a solid partition across the 
middle. It is to be associated with the " canoe drum " used by the Naga 
tribes of the north and east and elsewhere, vide my note at p. 77, of Mills, 
The Ao Naga*.J. H. H. 


leaves for their midday meal. The staple food is rice, 
served up with a relish of chilis and vegetables. Pumpkins, 
cucumbers, yams, arum roots and various kinds of vegetables 
are grown in the jhums, and these are supplemented by 
jungle vegetables, such as bamboo shoots, the young spikes 
of various kinds of palm, and fungi of different species. 
Many of these jungle vegetables are very palatable. The 
sap in the crown of the sago palm tastes very like globe 
artichoke ; bamboo shoots served with bacon are delicious, 
some species of bamboo having a more delicate flavour than 
others ; some of the most poisonous-looking fungi are 
excellent eating, but it is best to leave the choosing of them 
to a reliable person. Well do I remember the occasion 
when four of my servants, foreigners to these hills, lay 
vomiting on the ground from the effect of partaking of fungi 
without expert advice. 

The rice is cooked in one pot and the vegetables are cooked 
separately. If the vegetables available are of kinds which 
are supposed to clash when cooked together, each kind of 
vegetable must be cooked in a separate pot. No fat or 
grease of any kind is used for cooking nothing but water, 
and the Lakhers certainly feed less well than the Lusheis, who 
cook with oil or fat. Lakhers are very fond of meat, but 
unless the man of the house has been successful in hunting, 
or a sacrifice has given an excuse for killing a fowl or a pig, 
or there is some guest to be honoured, meat is not usually 
obtainable. They eat practically any kind of meat, from a 
rat to an elephant, and are not particular as to its freshness. 
Bear's meat is a favourite dish. Nothing is ever left uneaten 
of bear, everything is devoured, down to the last little bit 
of skin. All kinds of birds are eaten, and they are very 
fond of fish, which they trap and poison in all the streams, 
fresh-water crabs and mussels are eagerly sought, and there 
are very few creatures that walk, fly or swim that come 
amiss. Certain kinds of snake are also highly esteemed. 
Flying white ants called phipahripa are lightly roasted and 
eaten with zest. Women do not eat dog or goat. The dog 
they despise, regarding it as the lowest of all animals, and 
so refuse to eat it. The goat they do not eat, as it is never 


used for the Khazangpina or Zangda sacrifices, and so the 
women regard it as of little account, and though it is not 
ana, it is very shameful for a woman to eat either of these 
animals. The men, however, have no scruples of this sort, 
and eat both dog and goat, the dog being a very favourite 
dish. Neither men nor women eat horses, tigers, leopards, 
or cats. Horse-flesh is never eaten, as the horse carries men 
on its back, and is consequently a valued and respected 
animal, which no one would like to eat. Tigers and leopards 
are not eaten because they live on prey, and are also be- 
lieved to be distantly akin to men and to have a saw. Cats 
are not eaten, as they are also beasts of prey and their flesh 
smells bad. 

As soon as the rice is cooked, the woman of the house 
throws it out on to a plate and one of the men takes the 
relish out of the pot in which it has been cooking with a 
gourd spoon and places it on another plate. A little salt is 
added, and then the family gathers round the plates and 
has its meal. When salt is not available the water in which 
the rice and vegetables are to be cooked is first strained 
through wood ashes, and thereby acquires a salty taste, 
which it imparts to the food. Cold water is never drunk 
at meals, but the food is washed down with the water in 
which the vegetables have been cooked. 1 When a family 
is having its meal the door is usually closed, and if a visitor 
conies while people are at a meal it is etiquette for him to 
go away and return later, even if pressed to stay, as it is 
bad manners to interrupt people at their food. If a child 
wanders into a house while a meal is in progress a little rice 
is put into his right hand and a little meat into his left and 
he is sent away. It is considered the height of stinginess and 
bad manners to send a child away from a meal without 
giving him something to eat. At the end of a meal anything 
left over is put back into the cooking-pot for use at the next 

When a feast is being held, the unmarried men and girls 
sit next to each other, a man to each girl. On these occa- 
sions neither men nor girls must feed themselves with their 

1 Lusheis also follow this practice, but many are giving it up. N. E. P. 


own hands. The girls must put the food into the men's 
mouths and the men into the girls'. It is considered dis- 
graceful for unmarried persons to take their food themselves 
in public ; if they did so they say that they would feel shame. 

Another curious custom is that before eating pork many 
Lakhers pinch off a little bit of meat and say a grace, " Chani- 
thaisa Chabawthaisa," which means roughly, " I will eat as 
much of you as I can, I will swallow as much of you as I 
can." The bit of meat is then rubbed on the speaker's 
navel and thrown away, after which he does justice to the 
pork. It is said that no one who rubs his navel with a bit 
of meat before starting to eat ever suffers from the effects 
of over-eating. 

Lakhers wash their hands after a meal, but do not bother 
to do so before sitting down to eat. 

The Butcher's Art. 

To prepare a pig for eating requires four men. The meat 
is always cut up in the same way. When a pig is killed, its 
stomach and intestines are removed, and its blood is baled 
up with the hands into a cooking-pot. The next thing is 
to enlarge the pig's anus so as to allow of the passage of a 
seven-foot pole, which is run through the anus and out at 
the mouth. A man takes hold of this pole at each end, and 
they singe the pig thoroughly over the fire. When the bristles 
have all been burnt off, the carcase is washed in water and 
scraped with a dao, after which it is placed on the verandah 
and cut up. As a start the head is chopped off, and then 
the four legs. The head is cooked whole, the legs are cut 
up into squares of meat the size of a match box. After this 
the stomach and intestines, which were removed first of all, 
are cleaned, one man holding them up while another pours 
water over them. The blood which was set aside in a 
cooking-pot is poured into the intestine, which is tied up at 
each end with bark rope from the pazo tree (Hibiscus macro- 
phyllus, Roxb.) to prevent the blood escaping. The stomach, 
intestines, heart, lungs and the meat cut off the body are 
placed in large iron or earthenware pots and stewed for 


about four hours. When it is all cooked, the squares of 
meat cut off the legs and body are taken out separately and 
put on to plates, the intestine is cut into strips about an 
inch long, and the heart, the lungs and stomach are cut into 
squares the size of a match box. These tasty bits are then 
mixed up with the other meat and eaten with salt. 

With game the procedure is a little different, the animal 
being skinned and cut up on the spot where it was shot. 
The skinning does not take more than half an hour. The 
animal's head is next cut off and then its legs. The stomach 
and intestines are removed and cleaned. After this the 
neck, the loins, the spleen, the liver, and the chest are 
removed from the body. Next the spine is split down the 
middle and removed with the ribs attached. This is again 
divided into shares, consisting of three ribs and a piece of 
spine. Before anything else is done the shares that must 
be paid to the chief and certain of the shooter's relations are 
set aside. The rest of the meat is divided up among the 
people who were out hunting. The eldest man present receives 
a fore-leg or, if the man who shot the animal is a kuei, who 
has no game due to pay to the chief, a hind leg. Each man 
then goes off with his share of the meat, which is cooked as 
already described. Part of the meat is always dried, which 
takes three days or more, according to the size of the fire. 
When thoroughly dry it is taken off the skewers and placed 
in an open basket, which is kept above the hearth, so that 
the smoke may continue to reach it and keep it in good 

Birds are first singed in the fire and washed. The entrails 
are removed at one end and thrown away, except the 
gizzard, which is kept and eaten. At the other end the crop 
is removed and thrown away. The whole bird is then 
boiled with the gizzard. Three or four hours are taken to 
make an old rooster edible. When ready the bird is taken 
out and broken up with the hands. The meat is set out on 
a plate and salt is added. The water in which the bird was 
cooked is kept for drinking. 

Fish are generally gutted before being cooked, but certain 
fish which are regarded as clean feeders are eaten guts and 


all. Small fish are cooked whole. Large fish are cut up 
into four-inch slices and then cooked. 


The Lakher drink is a rice beer called sahma. It was first 
discovered by a girl who was unhappily married, and the 
story of its discovery is as follows. Once upon a time a girl 
had been married against her will to a man she loathed. 
She wanted to divorce her husband, but her parents would 
not let her do so, as they did not wish to have to refund the 
price they had received for her. In despair the girl decided 
to try to poison her husband. She collected some python's 
excrement, boiled up some rice, mixed the python's dung with 
it and left the mixture to stand. After three days, the girl, 
finding that the mixture had a very pungent smell, thought 
that it would do to poison her husband, and gave him some 
to eat. Having eaten of this mixture, the man got very 
drunk and fell unconscious, and his wife thought that she 
had accomplished her desire. Next morning, however, the 
man recovered, and, having found the effects of the mixture 
his wife had given him very pleasant, he made her go on 
making it, and introduced it to all his friends. This was the 
origin of sahma, which plays so large a part in all village 
feasts and merrymaking. 

There are three kinds of rice beer : 

(1) Sahmapi. To make this, rice is boiled and placed in 
a large earthenware pot, yeast made out of rice flour is 
added, and it is left till it ferments, which takes from one 
to four days, according to the time of year. When the rice 
is sweet to the taste, paddy husks are added and the mixture 
is kept in the beer pot, water not being added until the beer 
is wanted to drink. 

(2) Sahmahei. This is made in the same way as sahmapi, 
but no husks are added. The fermented rice is eaten, or, if 
preferred, water is added to make beer. 

(3) Zuri. This is spirit which is distilled either from 
sahmapi or from sahmahei to which water has been added. 
The sahma is first prepared and placed in an ordinary 


cooking-pot. On the top of this pot is placed another pot 
with a hole in the bottom, inside which is a smaller pot or a 
saucer, and on the top of this again is placed an iron pot full 
of cold water. A fire is lit beneath the pot containing the 
sahma, and - when the sahma boils its vapour goes up through 
the hole in the bottom of the second pot, strikes the iron pot 
containing water, liquifies, and falls into the saucer below 
in the form of spirit. In about two hours three beer bottles 
of spirit can be made out of six seers of sahma. Not a great 
deal of this spirit is made, its use being confined to marriages 
and big feasts. Sahma is never taken at meal-times. Par- 
taking as it does of the nature of both food and drink, it is 
treated with respect, and not as a mere adjunct of a meal. 
The chief occasions for saAma-drinking are weddings, wakes, 
the la ceremony after a head has been taken or a wild animal 
has been shot, and the formal entry into a new house. It is 
impossible, however, to enumerate the events which call for 
saHma, as it is used for every kind of celebration, and if a 
man wants to entertain his friends quietly, he asks them round 
to drink beer. The sahma has to be prepared some time 
before it is drunk, and invitations are generally sent round 
the day before. On the morning of the feast young men are 
called in to add the water and prepare the sahma-pots and 
drinking- vessels, and when all is ready the people who were 
invited the day before are again summoned to come and 
drink, and the proceedings begin. Every one sits down and 
begins to talk. If the beer is to be drunk direct from the 
pot, one of the elders takes the first drink, and the chief 
takes the second drink from that pot, the reason for this 
being that the beer that comes out with the first sucking is 
less sweet than that which comes later. If beer is being 
handed round in cups, the chief and elders are served first. 
In either case, after the chief and elders, the old men and 
women are served next, the younger and less important 
people being served last. About noon the host calls in as 
many young men and girls as are available, gives them sahma 
and gets them to sing, and singing and story-telling go on 
till the sahma is finished. At least seven pots of sahma are 
required for a feast of this sort. Sahma is drunk through 


reeds called patho, made out of thin shoots of rangia (Cepha- 
lostachyum capitatum) or of ramaw (Melocanna bambusoides), 
two common kinds of bamboo. The etiquette of drinking is 
curious. The beer pot is filled up to the brim, and a small 
stick is placed in the middle of the pot with its top about 
half an inch from the brim. The man who is going to drink 
sits down and sucks up beer through his reed, and when the 
top of the stick appears above the beer he must stop. 1 The 
pot is then again filled up with water, and another man has 
his turn. It is very shameful for a man to continue drinking 
when the top of the stick has appeared above the beer. 
Nowadays, instead of drinking direct out of the sahma-pot, 
Lakhers are taking to drawing the beer off into another 
vessel by means of a syphon with a joint called pakong made 
out of brass (cf. Fig. 3, p. 43) or wood. The longer leg of 
the syphon stands in the beer pot and the shorter leg pro- 
trudes over another vessel. A man sucks at this end until 
the beer begins to flow. When the second vessel is full, the 
beer is distributed round in cups. The syphon joints are 
made by Lusheis or Chins. The Lakhers themselves have 
not yet acquired the art. They are ornamented with figures 
of men, birds and animals, and are made by the cire perdue 

Drinking-cups made out of the horns of the mithun 
(Bos frontalis) are owned by chiefs and nobles ; ordinary 
people use bamboo cups. Zuri or spirit is handed round in 
tots, in small bamboo cups like liqueur glasses made for the 
purpose. No Lakher ever attends a sdhma feast without a 
formal invitation. Gin-crawling by fellow- villagers is con- 
sidered the worst of form, but if a stranger comes in he must 
be offered a drink. Any one failing in this duty of hospitality 
would be considered an absolute churl. Lakhers never buy 
sahma for each other in the way the Lushei do. If a 
Lushei arrives at a house when drinking is going on he sits 
down and takes part, and in his turn is expected to send out 
and buy a pot of zu for the company to consume. This 
treating is unknown to the Lakhers, whose drinking is all 

1 So also tho Thado Ivukis, vide my footnote on Shaw, Notes on the 
Thadou Kukis t p. 93. J. H. H. 


done on invitation only, and any one thrusting himself into 
a sahma party without an invitation is regarded with extreme 

Though people become very drunk at these feasts, not 
much damage is done. The Lakhers, it is true, are not such 
gentlemanly drinkers as the Lusheis, but it is seldom that 
the serious brawls, often resulting in one of the drinkers 
being injured or even killed, which are so common in Chin 
villages, occur at a Lakher drinking bout. 


All Lakhers are smokers, both men and women. The 
tobacco is grown in small patches in the jhum wherever the 
fire has been fiercest, as tobacco is said to prefer ground that 
has been well burnt. When the plants are knee high, the 
leaves are stripped and withered for a day on the verandah 
of the jhum house or in the village. After withering, the 
leaves are trampled with the feet on the verandah to crush 
out the juice. When thoroughly crushed the pulp is placed 
on a tray or a piece of matting and dried in the sun for two 
days. When the tobacco is sufficiently dry it is placed in a 
basket and stored on the shelf above the hearth, so that it 
may be kept perfectly dry. The tobacco is not unpleasant 
to smoke, but its smell is repulsive to any one not smoking. 
It is strong, and resembles the coarser kinds of South African 

A man's pipe is called ongmabei (cf. Fig. 3, p. 91). 
The bowl is made out of rasang bamboo (Bambusa Tulda) 
two years old. A section of bamboo is cut on each side of 
the joint so as to leave 1| inches of bamboo below and 1 inch 
above the joint. This small section is then turned upside 
down that is, in the reverse way to that in which it is found 
in a growing bamboo. A small hole is made in the middle 
of the joint, and the 1-inch length is covered in with a piece 
of gourd cut so as to fit the aperture exactly. A hole to take 
the mouthpiece is then made exactly at the bud on the knot. 
The mouthpiece is made of a thin piece of ramaw bamboo 
(Melocanna bambusoides). The whole pipe is then 2|- inches 
high. The tobacco is placed in the upper part of the bowl, 



the smoke passes through the hole in the knot into the 
chamber enclosed with the gourd and thence through the 
mouthpiece into the smoker's mouth. 

A woman's pipe is called karo (Fig. 5. p. 01). It consists 
of three parts : a clay bowl called karohi, a nicotine -water 
receptacle called karocho, and a stopper called karolia, which 
closes the nicotine -water receptacle and connects it with the 
bowl and also connects the bowl to the mouthpiece. In 
making a pipe, the stopper (karolia) is always made first. 
It consists of a piece cut out of the base of the ramaw bamboo 
(Melocanna bambmoides), with a bent piece of the root still 
adhering to it. This is cut into shape so as to fit the water 
receptacle, which is a section of hollow bamboo. The stopper 
is then pierced through the centre so as to allow the passage of 
a thin bamboo tube to join the clay bowl above to the water 
chamber below. Another hole is made from a point near 
the junction of the protruding root and the main piece of 
bamboo which forms the stopper to lead into the water 
chamber through the top of the stopper. The mouthpiece, 
which is also a piece of narrow bamboo tubing, fits into this 
hole. Tied to the mouthpiece with string is a short piece 
of iron the size of a long nail, called thlathlua, used to stir 
the tobacco, to make the pipe draw better. 

Metal mouthpieces made by the Lusheis (Fig. 12, p. 43) are 
sometimes used, but the genuine Lakher mouthpiece is of 

The water receptacle (karocho) is made of a section 3 inches 
long of the same bamboo (Melocanna bambusoides), which 
should be cut from a bamboo of two-years' growth. 
The outside of this chamber is ornamented with patterns 
scratched on it with a needle. 

The last thing to be fitted on is the clay bowl to hold the 
tobacco. These bowls arc made by women in the village. 
They are 2| inches high and about 1| inches in diameter. 

The water receptacle is filled with water. The stopper 
with mouthpiece attached is fitted into it, the clay bowl is 
fixed above the stopper, and the pipe is ready to smoke. 
The smoke passes from the clay bowl to the water chamber, 
through the water and thence up through the mouthpiece 


into the smoker's mouth. The water thus becomes impreg- 
nated with nicotine, and when the pipe has been smoked for 
about an hour is poured out through the mouthpiece of the 
pipe into a nicotine-water flask for further use. 

Cigarettes are only just beginning to come in, as the 
people have no money to buy them. A horrid habit ac- 
quired from the Lusheis of rolling home-grown tobacco in 
old pieces of newspaper or brown paper to make cigarettes 
is also spreading among the younger people. 

Men and women alike sip nicotine water. A family 
generally owns three nicotine- water flasks (Fig. 2, p. 91), one 
carried by the husband, one by the wife, and a spare one kept 
in the house. No grown man or woman ever goes without a 
flask. Sips of nicotine water are taken at frequent intervals, 
the water being retained in the mouth for about ten minutes 
and then spat out. Nicotine water has an appalling smell, 
but Lakhers are very fond of it, and claim that it enables 
them to endure for a long time without food. If a man is 
going on a journey, his womenkind have to prepare enough 
nicotine water to last him till his return. 1 When I took a 
party of Lakher chiefs into Aijal I had to arrange for supplies 
of nicotine water for them from the villages along the road, as 
they were quite miserable without it. Boys generally start 
the habit when about nine years old, and when a young man 
is courting a girl he expects her to keep him supplied with 
nicotine water, and the girls must supply nicotine water to 
the young men who sleep in their house. Nicotine water 
must always be offered to visitors, and it is very rude to 
omit this attention. The habit, though unpleasant, does 
not seem to be harmful, and has none of the bad effects of 
addiction to opium or ganja, both of which are unknown to 
the Lakhers. Colonel Lewin states that nicotine water is 
believed to preserve the teeth and gums. 2 


The trade done by the Lakhers is negligible ; they have 
little to sell, and money is scarce. The chief means they 

1 Ao men make their own nicotine water. ('/. Mills, The Ao Nagas, 
p. 152. N. K. P. 

2 (.'/. Lew in, Wild Races of Eolith-eastern India, p. 284. N. E. P. 


have of making money is by the sale of rice to Government 
for the rations of the men at the Tuipang outpost and the 
sale of cotton and sesamum seed to Arakanese traders 
who come up the Kolodyne in boats. The young men 
earn a few rupees in the cold weather by carrying goods 
for Lungleh shopkeepers between Lungleh and Demagiri. 
When they have earned enough they buy salt and brass or 
copper cooking-pots and carry them back to their villages. 
The salt is for home consumption, but most of the cooking- 
pots are resold at a profit to the Chins across the Kolodyne. 
There are no shops, and the people manage very well with- 
out them, as their needs are so few. Marriage prices are paid 
in kind. They grow all their food and make all their own 
clothes, so they have very little need for money. In time, 
no doubt, trade will develop, as the Kolodyne offers an easy 
way of transport to Arakan, and if fruit-growing is en- 
couraged the Lakhers should be able to carry on a really 
profitable trade in oranges, limes, coffee, tea, ground-nuts 
and potatoes, all of which can be grown easily. Apples and 
pears should also do well in the high country. The develop- 
ment of agriculture in this way can do nothing but good, as 
it in no way interferes with the traditional life of the people 
and, while raising their standard of living, does not have the 
baneful effects which so often follow on a development of 
education on the standard lines. If more money were spent 
on improving agriculture in the hills, and less on education, 
it would be greatly to the benefit of the hill peoples. 


The Lakhers still make practically all their own clothes. 
The cotton is grown in the jhums, the seed being sown in 
May and the flowers plucked in December. As soon as it 
has been gathered the cotton is spread in the sun to dry for 
three or four days, as unless it is quite dry it is very difficult 
to separate the seeds from the flower. The cotton is next 
cleaned in a wooden gin called lari, rather like a small 
mangle, with two rollers geared to revolve in opposite 
directions. The cotton passes through the roller, and the 


seed, being unable to pass through the roller, is left behind. 
These cotton gins are made by the Lakhers, the frame out 
of aveu wood (Gmelina arborea, Roxb.) and the geared rollers 
out of asi (Castanopsis tribuloides), a kind of chestnut with 
hard wood. The gin is similar to the Lushei gin, except 
that the base and frame of the Lushei gin are cut out of a 
solid piece of wood, while in the Lakher gin the base and the 
uprights are made separately and the latter are dove-tailed 
into the base (c/. Fig. 4, p. 91). Having been separated 
from the seed, the cotton is teased with a bamboo bow 
(lakah) to make it soft and fluffy. This bow consists of a 
stave of rasang bamboo (Bambusa Tulda) with a wide base 
and a narrow top. The string is made of cane (ari) (Calamus 
erectus, Roxb.). The string is first tied to the base and then 
to the top of the stave, the space between the string and the 
stave being less at the bottom than at the top. The cotton 
is placed on the ground ; the bow is held in the operator's 
right hand, and the string is flicked on to the cotton with a 
piece of bamboo held in her left hand. As it is teased the 
cotton becomes downy, and the heap increases in size till 
it is about five times the size of the original. The cotton is 
now clean, all dirt and debris adhering to it which had not 
been retained by the mangle being removed in the course 
of the teasing. 

The next process is to roll the cotton, which is placed on 
a smooth plank and rolled with a piece of the stem of a tall 
grass called angphi (Tkymnolaena agrostis, Nees), about 
1 foot long and the breadth of a pencil. The cotton rolls 
itself round the stick, and when the stick is covered with 
cotton it is pulled out. The cotton rolls are about 8 inches 
long, and are ready for spinning into thread on the spinning- 
wheel (raha). (Fig. 2, p. 96.) 

The spinning-wheel (raha) is made from wood and cane, 
the actual spindle (rahathua) being made of iron. The stand 
supporting the uprights through which the axle of the wheel 
revolves is made of aveu wood (Omelina arborea, Roxb.), 
about 3 inches thick, to give it weight, and is formed in the 
shape of the letter T. The cross of the T is about 12 inches 
long, and is dovetailed into the stem, which is about 15 

9 6 




inches long. Holes are bored at both ends of the top of 
the cross-piece to take the uprights which hold the axle. 
These are strong pieces of aveu wood (Gmelina arborea, 
Roxb.) tapering at both ends and about 2 feet high. A 
little above the middle of each upright a hole is bored to 
hold the ends of the axle, to which a handle to turn the wheel 
is attached. The axle is made of sasai wood (Caryota urens). 
The arm of the handle is formed from a flat piece of wood, 
about 2 inches long by 1 inch wide, with a hole bored at 
both ends. One end of the axle protrudes through one 
hole, while in the other is placed a small bamboo handle. 
The complete length of the axle is about 18 inches. It is 
pointed at both ends so as to fit into the holes in the uprights, 
and it is thicker in the middle than at the ends, so as to keep 
the two sets of spokes apart. At the further end of the 
stand forming the base of the machine is placed a three - 
pronged support, which holds the spindle in position. This 
support is made out of a small piece of forked wood con- 
sisting of a stalk with three prongs growing out of it, gener- 
ally from a tree called laki (Callicarpa arborea, Roxb.), which 
forks freely. Holes are pierced in the two outer prongs 
about 1 inch below the top. Through these holes thin cane 
loops are fixed within which the spindle revolves. The 
function of the middle prong is to keep the two circles of 
the thread belt apart. The spokes for each side of the 
wheel are made from four pieces of aveu wood (Gmelina 
arborea, Roxb.) about 10 inches long and 1 inch broad, 
tapering and grooved at both ends. The four spokes form- 
ing each side of the wheel are crossed exactly in the middle, 
and a hole is bored through them to admit the thin ends of 
the axle, the spokes being thus held in place between the 
upright and the thickened centre of the axle. The spokes 
on either side of the wheel are not opposite each other, but 
are placed alternately, and narrow slats of split cane are 
tied into grooves at the end of the spokes and stretched 
across diagonally to the spokes on the other side, thus 
forming a tyre. The outer edges of this tyre are made of 
split canes circled round each side just inside the spokes, 
and tied over the cross canes at each spoke. Over this 


tyre the belt revolves. The belt is made of two bands of 
thick thread, which encircle both the wheel and the spindle, 
and run one on each side of the centre prong of the support. 
To keep the spinning-wheel firmly on the ground, a stone 
is generally placed on the stand when it is being worked ; 
it can also be held down by the foot. 

The cotton wool ready to be spun is about 8 inches long 
and 1 inch in diameter, and exactly resembles a thin roll of 
ordinary cotton wood. The spinner holds the handle of the 
wheel in her right hand and winds by turning the handle 
away from her. In her left hand she holds the roll of cotton 
wool. To engage the cotton on the spindle one end of the 
roll of cotton wool is loosened, wrapped round the spindle, 
and held firmly with the thumb and first finger until it is 
secure. The roll of cotton now lies across the palm of the 
left hand, and as the spinning-wheel is turned the cotton 
wool is gradually spun into thread. If the thread is not 
being spun quite evenly on to the spindle, it can be regulated 
by giving the handle half turns backwards and forwards, 
while the thread is held high above the spindle in the left 
hand. The thread can by this means be wound on to the 
spindle as evenly as it is wound on to the spool of a sewing- 
machine. A heap of small rolls of cotton wool is placed on 
the floor near the spinner's left hand. As soon as one roll 
is nearly exhausted a new roll is placed just overlapping the 
end of the preceding roll, and is held with the thumb and 
forefinger until it also begins to pass into thread on the 
spindle, and the spinning continues. When the spindle is 
full, the thread is removed and wound on to a thread-holder 
called laba (Fig. 2, p. 100). 

The laba consists of a piece of wood about 2 to 3 feet long 
and about 1 inch thick, and is sharpened at both ends like 
a pencil. About 3 inches below each of the sharpened 
points of this stick a hole is bored, and through this is 
inserted a thin cross-piece of bamboo about 10 inches long, 
pared down to the thickness of a knitting-needle. 

To wind the thread into a skein, the end of the thread is 
laid horizontally along the middle stick, starting from the 
centre and held in place by the left hand. The thread is 


then wound upwards and over the cross-piece on the right, 
then down under the lower cross-piece on the same side and 
up over the left hand holding the end of the thread and up 
over the cross-piece on the left side ; then down under the 
cross-piece below on the left side, and up over the hand 
again, and over the cross-piece on the right side and down 
under the cross-piece on the same side, and so on. When 
a few threads have been wound in this way the end of the 
thread is tied over two or three of the horizontal threads to 
hold it securely. This thread is tied in exactly the same way 
as the end of the thread of a hank of wool. The thread is 
wound on to the laba in this way until it is full. When the 
laba is full, if the thread is wanted for immediate use it is 
taken off in a hank, placed in an earthenware pot in which 
rice is being cooked, and allowed to boil with the rice for 
about three hours. When the rice is ready, the hank of 
thread is taken out and hung up to dry on a bamboo pole 
supported by two uprights, which is called batla. Between 
the hanks hanging from the batla a heavy stick is placed to 
stretch the thread, which in this position is well brushed 
while still wet with a brush made out of the fruit of the 
pandanus tree to remove ragged ends. When the hanks of 
thread are dry they are placed on a thread winder called 
kihlong (Fig. 1, p. 100), and thence wound into balls round a 
small stone. This thread- winder is so ingeniously constructed 
as to merit description. Its base is a pedestal formed from 
four spreading branchlets growing out of one stem, which, 
turned upside down, form the four feet of the pedestal, while 
on the upright stem a bamboo joint revolves. This pedestal 
stands about 2 feet high. The stem is pared down to about 
2 inches in diameter, so that it can be covered by a joint of 
bamboo. This joint of bamboo is about 8 inches long and 3 
or 4 inches in diameter. The stem of the pedestal inside only 
reaches up to about half the length of the bamboo joint. 
Two sets of holes are made right through the bamboo joint 
one above the other, and about an inch apart. Four arms 
made of split bamboo about 2 feet long and 1 inch wide with 
an upright peg at the end of each are inserted through these 
holes overlapping each other, so that they can be lengthened 





or shortened to suit the length of the skein to be wound. A 
small bamboo wedge is slipped through the side of the joint 
to keep the arms in place. The hank of thread is stretched 
outside the four pegs at the ends of the arms, so that the 
bamboo joint on the centre revolves as the thread is pulled 
to be wound into a ball. The thread having been wound 
off the Jcihlong into balls, it is ready for weaving. 

As a rule, however, thread merely spun on the spinning- 
wheel is not used for cloth-making until it has been spun 
out again on a spindle, as cloths made of threads which have 
undergone only one spinning last about half as long as those 
which have been re-spun on a spindle. When thread is to 
be re-spun, therefore, it is placed straight from the laba on 
to the kihlong without being boiled, wound into balls, and spun 
out again on a spindle called lahmi shown in Fig. 1, at 
p. 90. Ordinarily only one-ply thread is spun, but two- 
ply threads can be spun if coarser thread is desired for 
any special purpose. The spindle consists of a bamboo rod 
about 18 inches long and the thickness of a large knitting- 
needle, tapering from the base to a point at the top. The 
base of the rod is passed through the whorl, which is made 
preferably out of the bone of an elephant's foot, or, if that 
is not available, out of the root of the ramaw bamboo 
(Melocanna bambusoides). When spinning, the woman holds 
the ball of thread in her left hand. The thread is tied about 
the middle of the spindle rod, twisted round it a few times 
and looped over the right thumb on to the top of the rod. 
The thumb being withdrawn, the thread is tightened round 
the top of the rod. The spindle is spun by a sharp twist of the 
right hand at its point, and when it has finished spinning the 
thread is untied at the top and wound round the spindle, 
the process being repeated till the spindle is full. When 
the spindle is full, if the thread is wanted for white cloth the 
spindle is placed on the ground and the thread wound off 
it into balls round a small stone. If the thread is to be 
dyed dark blue it is wound on to the laba again, whence it 
is removed in skeins to be dyed. The process of dyeing will 
be described later on, and it will be convenient now to deal 
with the actual weaving of the cloth. The loom used is a 


simple tension loom, but unless the process is described in 
detail it is impossible to understand how the cloth is made, 
while the description itself is no easy task. To make it as 
clear as possible I will first explain how the loom is set up, 
and will then endeavour to describe the weaving of a cloth. 

A strong bamboo beam (batla) is tied between two of the 
house-posts, and from each end of this is suspended a loop 
of rope about 8 inches long, called khawhri, made out of the 
bark of the pazo tree. A thinner bamboo rod about 36 
inches long is hung through these two loops of cane to form 
the bar of the loom (lawbu). The weaver (thaisapa) sits on 
the ground below at a suitable distance from the bar of 
the loom, according to the length of the cloth required. 
The weaver then passes behind her back a hide belt 
(thaipho). This belt is attached by cane tied into the grooves 
at each end of a round stick, called the breast-rod (tiana), 
which rests across the weaver's knees. The thread which 
is to form the warp (palatoncj) is tied to the left end of 
the breast-rod. Another woman (thairapa) assists the 
weaver to set up the loom (thai). The assistant takes the 
warp and passes it over the bar of the loom, then down 
underneath it again, and under and over the breast-rod, 
and then up over and under the bar of the loom. This 
process of winding the warp on to the loom is continued 
until the necessary number of threads is secured. The 
weaver settles herself comfortably on the loom, leaning 
against the belt, and stretches the threads of the warp to 
the required tautness. As the assistant places the warp 
on the loom, the weaver, after five warp threads have 
been so placed, inserts about 1| feet above the breast-rod 
a bamboo rod about 1| inches in diameter for the lease-rod 
(lawbu), the first warp being placed over this lease-rod. 
Two narrow pieces of split bamboo (thaiteina) the same 
length as the breast-rod are placed between the warp just 
above the breast-rod, one below and one above each external 
thread of the warp, to keep the first line of the weft (palaphei) 
straight. These two split bamboos are retained in this 
position until the whole cloth is woven. Another smaller 
bamboo rod (chiri) is then inserted between the warp threads 


above the lease-rod, the first warp being placed above the 
lease-rod and under the chiri. By placing the warp 
alternately under the lease-rod and over the small rod 
called chiri, the lease-rod is kept straight. The next and 
third round stick to be put into position is the heddle 
(lawhna). This is placed about 1 foot above the breast- 
rod and just below the lease-rod. To the left end of the 
heddle is attached a thick cotton thread, and with this 
thread, which is also called lawhna, the weaver picks up 
every alternate warp thread, beginning from the second. 
The heddle thread is passed under the second warp thread 
and then up over the heddle. The third warp thread is not 
picked up by the heddle, but is placed on to the loom. 
The heddle then picks up the fourth thread, and so on 
until every alternate thread is held up by the heddle. 
The function of the heddle is to hold up every alternate 
thread of the warp, so that the sword (thaiphia) may pass 
between the warp threads to hold them in place for the 
shuttle (chakhaw) to pass through. The shuttle is a piece 
of thin bamboo stick about 2 inches long, upon which the 
cotton to form the weft threads has been wound. The 
shuttle is refilled from the ball by spinning it up and 
down against the hip with the palm of the hand. The 
sword is a flat piece of the sasai palm (Caryota urens, 
Linn.) about 3 inches wide. When the sword is turned 
up on its edge it leaves ample room between the warp 
threads for the shuttle with the weft thread to be passed 
through, as the alternate threads of the warp are held up 
by the heddle ; the weft is thereby enabled to pass over the 
one warp thread and under the next, as in darning. 

The sword must be moved down to below the point where 
the warp threads cross each other before the shuttle is again 
passed through. By this means the warp threads which 
were above the weft threads on one line are placed below 
the weft threads on the next line, and vice versa. Each 
time the shuttle is shot through the warp the edge of the 
sword is brought down smartly against the pick of the weft 
to make each of the threads even. Should part of the weft 
become uneven, it can be loosened or placed in position 


with the aid of a porcupine quill (sawkuhlang) by slackening 
the warp, lifting the heddle, and pulling the weft thread 
through more tightly, thereby readjusting the whole line. 
When all the warp has been placed on the loom, an evenly 
notched stick called thaitei is placed above the chiri to hold 
the warp threads at the right distance from each other, and 
a warp thread is placed in each notch. The weaving is then 

To keep the tension of the warp threads even as they stretch 
on the loom, a second bar of the loom, also called lawbu, the 
same size as the original bar, is placed alongside of it and 
below the warp threads. The two bars of the loom are then 
given one half-turn upwards, and the ends of the second bar 
are placed behind the two cane loops. The warp is thereby 
tightened up. The two bars require to be readjusted fre- 
quently in the course of weaving. The work of the assistant 
is completed when the loom is fully wound and the two bars 
of the loom have been placed in position. The weaver 
continues to ply the shuttle until about a foot of material 
has been woven. The woven piece is then passed back 
under the breast-rod, and the loom readjusted until another 
foot has been woven, and so on. 

An efficient weaver produces perfectly woven material 
from this primitive loom. 

The pattern is worked in between the threads with a 
porcupine quill, small pieces of coloured cotton or silk being 
used. The single heddle loom can only be used for plain 
weaving ; for an elaborate pattern a number of heddles are 
necessary to hold up the alternate quantities of warp re- 
quired to form the pattern. Ordinarily three heddles are 
used, but for elaborate patterns as many as seven may be 
required. It needs quite four years for a weaver to learn 
how to make a fully patterned cloth. A full-sized cloth 
takes the weaver seven to eight months to complete ; but 
this is not surprising considering the number of other calls 
that the mother of a family in a Lakher village has on her 

Two pieces of cloth the size of a loom are sewn together to 
make a full-sized cloth. Nowadays needles are bought in 


Lungleh bazaar, formerly they were imported from Arakan, 
and I found no one who could tell me what they used before 
steel needles were available. The Lusheis used small pieces 
of sharpened bamboo, and still use them for making the 
thick cloth of raw cotton called puanpui, and I am almost 
sure that Lakhers must have used the same ; it is impossible 
that they should have been able to obtain steel needles for 
much more than fifty to sixty years. 


All dyeing is done by women, and it is ana, or forbidden, 
for men to take any part in the operation, as it is believed 
that any man who touches dye or a cloth that is being dyed 
will be unable to shoot any game, and will be especially 
liable to suffer from consumption. The reason why partici- 
pation in dyeing results in bad luck in the chase is rather 
complicated. Animals are terrified of blood, and conse- 
quently are very afraid of women because of their menstrual 
flow. The hands of a man who takes part in dyeing are 
stained with the blue dye, and the smell of the dye also 
hangs about him. The souls of the wild animals scent this 
at once, and when such a man approaches they associate 
him in their minds with women, become very frightened, 
and refuse to allow him to approach them. Hence a man 
who helps his wife to dye cloth is always unlucky in the 

For dyeing cloth the Lakhers know only of blue and yellow 
dyes. There are three methods of dyeing cotton blue. The 
first is with the leaves of wild indigo (Strobilantlies flaccidi- 
folius). The leaves are boiled in water, and when they have 
been on the boil some time are taken out of the pot, squeezed 
into a wooden trough and placed on one side ; the water 
from the pot is also poured into the trough. To this indigo 
water ashes arc added and the thread to be dyed is placed 
in the trough and thoroughly kneaded in the dye. After 
this the thread is taken out of the dye, wrung out and 
replaced in the trough, and the boiled-up indigo leaves which 
were squeezed into the trough are placed on the top of it. 


The thread is left to soak for three days. After this it is 
wrung out and hung up in the sun to dry. After a month 
the process is repeated, and again a month later, as unless 
the cloth is dipped three times the dye will not be fast. 

The second method is to crush the bark of the azeu tree 
(Duabanga soneratioides) in a mortar. The crushed bark is 
then boiled and the liquid is strained off. The thread to be 
dyed is steeped in the liquid, and as soon as it is thoroughly 
wet is taken out and buried in mud, where it is left for 
three days, after which it is taken out and washed. This 
process has to be gone through twice to make the colour 
fast. 1 

The third process is carried out in the same way as the 
second, except that the leaves of the awhmangbeupa tree (Pi- 
ihecolobium angulatum, Benth.) are used instead of azeu bark. 
To dye thread yellow the Lakhers crush the roots of the 
turmeric plant iasamaipa and boil them with the thread to 
be dyed. Two boilings are necessary. The Lakhers have 
no red dye. The plumes of scarlet hair for the headdress 
of a manslayer and the tails used for ornamenting daos and 
shields are bought ready made from the Chins. Red dyes 
bought in Lungleh bazaar are now being used in all the 

Metal Work. 

The Lakhers do very little metal work. In the Savang 
and Chapi groups there were no regular blacksmiths till a 
year or two ago. The Savang people buy their daos and 
tools from Arakan and the Chapi people from Haka. In the 
old administered area most of the villages have village 
blacksmiths, who receive certain dues from the villagers, 
in consideration of which they are expected to keep the 
villagers' tools in order and to make such new tools as may 
be required. Practically the only articles made are daos, 
knives, hoes and axes. Ornamental metal work, except for 

1 The Angami Nagas use the same process with the wood or bark of 
Macaranga denticulata, which yields a tan or mordant which contains gallic 
acid. The mud contains iron salts which combine witli the gallic acid and 
turn the material black. J. H. H. 


the bracelets called rahongpachhi and the earrings called 
hawmiraheu, does not exist. The forge is of a most primitive 
type. The bellows are made of two hollowed-out logs 4 feet 
long. Each has a hole pierced at one side at the bottom, 
large enough to hold a hollow bamboo to carry the blast. 
These logs are planted side by side in the floor of the forge, 
a bamboo is run into the hole at the bottom of each ; the 
other end of this bamboo is close to the fire and enclosed 
in a round stone, which has been pierced to hold it so as to 
prevent it from being burnt. Each hollow log contains a 
piston composed of a stick bound round with old cloth or 
feathers to make it air-tight. The assistant works the 
bellows, pulling the pistons up and down ; the blacksmith 
holds the iron with the tongs in his left hand and a hammer 
in his right hand. The iron or steel is hammered into shape 
on another piece of iron, or sometimes on a large stone. 
The tools used by a blacksmith are a hammer (seulong), a 
pair of tongs (thuachaichhi), a file (serai) and a kind of chisel 
called a siakhai. If a Lakher wants a dao or a hoe, he has 
to buy the iron and take it to the blacksmith with enough 
charcoal for the fire, and the blacksmith fashions such tools 
as his customer requires to the best of his ability. The tools 
turned out are small and of very inferior workmanship, as 
the blacksmiths are quite unskilled, and the scarcity of cash 
makes it impossible for Lakhers to buy enough iron for 
decent-sized tools. 


Lakhers generally use flint and steel for making fire. The 
story goes that originally men had no fire and did not know 
how to make it, the only person who had fire being the god 
Kfiazangpa. Men decided to send to Khazangpa to ask him 
to give them fire, but as any one sent to Khazangpa had to 
cover his eyes with his cloth, no one could find the way. 
At last a fly said, " I shall be able to fetch fire from Kha- 
zangpa" The men said, " Very well, you go to Khazangpa 
and bring us back fire." Accordingly they tied a cloth 
over the fly's head as usual and sent him off. Now the fly 


has eyes in his body under his wings, and not on his head, 
as the men thought, so that when the fly reached the presence 
of Khazangpa it was able to see all that he did, and watched 
Khazangpa strike the flint and make fire. Khazangpa then 
said to the fly, " Now tell me how fire is made." The fly 
in his turn made fire from the flint, so Khazangpa said, 
" Now you know how to make fire," and gave the fly the 
flint, which he took back to the earth, and so was the first 
to bring fire to men. 

Steel and flint are known as pachi chilong, and for tinder 
the Lakhers use the dried sap of the sasai palm (Caryota 
urens). The steels are made in the village forge ; the flints 
are bought from the Chins. The tinder and flint are held 
in the left hand and the steel in the right, the stone being 
struck with the steel till the sparks light the tinder. Until 
recent years fire was invariably made by flint and steel. 
Nowadays matches are becoming common, but most Lakhers 
still carry a tinder box in their bag, as they have to be very 
sparing of matches owing to their cost. (J^ig. 6, p. 91.) 

Another method of making fire is by rubbing a cane rope 
against a dry bamboo. A dry bamboo is split, and on the 
outside of one half a notch is cut for the cane to run along, and 
in the centre of the notch a small hole is made which is filled 
in with the dried sap of the sasai palm. The bamboo is then 
placed on the ground with one end resting on a bit of stick 
or a stone, a rope of ari cane (Calamus erectus, Roxb.) is 
placed beneath it in the notch through which the hole has 
been made. The fire -maker places one foot on each end of 
the bamboo, and holding one end of the thong in each hand, 
pulls it rapidly backwards and forwards till the bamboo 
becomes so hot that the dry palm sap ignites. As soon as 
the tinder is alight it is placed on the tobacco in a pipe, 
from which fire is then obtained as required. 

This is the oldest method of fire making known to the 
Lakhers. It is said to be by no means certain and is only 
used nowadays by people benighted in the jungle without 
fire and without other means of making it. Garos make fire 
in exactly the same way, save that they use a bamboo 
instead of a cane thong. The method is called Walbita in 


Atong and WaUala in Achik. The tinder used is the 
same. 1 

Basket Work. 

All basket work is done by the men. Many different kinds 
of baskets are made, each with its special use, some of 
bamboo and others of cane. Very neat work is done, the 
prettiest basket being the haiba, a covered basket on the 
same lines as the Lushei tliitl, but squarer, lower, and without 
a tapered base. Mats, trays, and sieves are made of cane or 
bamboo, but most commonly of the latter. Pedestal plates 
called pawkho, made of bamboo, are used for eating rice. 
These are of beautiful workmanship. Scabbards for daos 
are made of finely woven cane with slings made of the dried 
tails of monkeys. A very effective waterproof cape called 
chahnang is made out of the leaflets of a grass called chalinang. 
The leaflets arc stripped from the midrib, and each leaflet is 
divided down the centre. The garment is composed of rows 
of bunches of these leaflets overlapping each other, and 
reaching from the shoulder to the knee. The foundation 
upon which the bunches of leaflets hang is made of strips of 
leaflets plaited in two-ply twists. These are placed less than 
a quarter of an inch apart, and are laced together crosswise 
at intervals of about 3 inches by a fibre thread. The top 
of the garment is shaped to fit closely over the shoulders, 
and is tied in front by a thick fibre string. A row of three 
fibrous threads neatly woven through the ends of the leaflets 
which are turned over to make a hem forms a finely woven 
edging on the shoulders. 

The strips of leaflets are tied together in bunches with ten 
strips in each bunch, and the bunches are then tied tightly 
together in rows, the apex of the leaflets hanging downwards. 
Four rows of these bunches go to make a complete garment. 
The foundation to which the bunches of leaves are attached 
is not continued after the third row of leaflets. The last 
row hangs free. 

A Lakher's rainy-weather kit is completed by a rain hat 

1 So, too, all Nagas. For distribution outside Assam, see Balfour, 
" Frictionai Fire -making with Flexible Sawing-Thong," J.R.AJ., XLIV. 
(June 1914). J. H. H. 




something like an Assamese japi. This hat is formed of two 
circular pieces of bamboo lattice work, dome-shaped and 
rising to a flattish peak, between which are placed the 
waterproof leaves of chaihna (Phrynium capitatum, Willd.). 
A coronet of split bamboo 1 inch broad is fixed below the 
peak to fit on to the head, and fibre strings to go round the 
chin are attached to this coronet. For the under side of the 
hat, a broad pattern of latticed bamboo is used, which is 
strengthened at the edge of the brim by three circles of strips 
of bamboo, while another circle of bamboo is placed 3 inches 
inside the brim and tied in place by a fine cane. The outer 
lattice-work covering is of a much finer pattern, and is 
ornamented and strengthened at the edge of the brim by a 
strip of fine basket work 3 inches wide, the edge of the brim 
being further strengthened by a circle of finely plaited 
bamboo. Hats vary in size, but an ordinary size is 1| feet 
in diameter (c/. Figs. 3 and 3a, at p. 100). 

Baskets are woven in certain definite plaits, as shown in 
the table below. The heading of each column gives the 
name of the plait, and the names of the baskets worked in 
each plait are given underneath. 








Bar a. 



The baikai is the basket used for collecting the grain at 
harvest and for carrying grain. It is about 2 feet high and 
2 feet in diameter across the top, tapering down to about 
8 inches square at the base. The method of plaiting the 
basket with stiff and flexible split bamboos is as follows. 

Two split bamboo strips cut into lengths about a quarter 
of an inch wide, and retaining their green outside covering 
on one side, are placed on the ground at right angles, crossing 


each other exactly in the middle, with the outer side under- 
neath. Split bamboos about a quarter of an inch wide (but 
without the green outer covering) are then placed one on 
each side of both of the green crossed strips of bamboo. As 
the newly added strips are plaited in, they must pass over 
one and under two, and under one and over two, alternately 
both ways to form the twilled pattern. The encircling slat 
is continuous, and every time it passes over two it forms one 
plait of the pattern. Sufficient must be plaited first to form 
the bottom of the basket, i.e. about 8 inches square, to 
strengthen which two bamboo sticks about the thickness of 
a pencil and sharpened at both ends are placed obliquely 
across it from corner to corner and the sharpened ends are 
pushed an inch through the plait, so that the ends of these 
small rods are visible inside the basket. The split bamboos 
to form the ribs of the basket are then carefully bent up- 
wards. At this stage a hoop of bamboo of the required size 
is inserted inside the ribs at the point where the basket 
begins to expand that is, a little below its middle. The 
rib slats are tied together in a bunch at a point above that 
which the top of the finished basket will reach, and a long 
split bamboo, which is discarded later, is passed under the 
basket and tied up over the top as though tying a parcel. 
The ribs are only tied in a bunch above the top of the basket 
until the plaiting of the circular slats reaches the point 
where the basket begins to expand, as from there onwards 
the ribs must be free, to allow the basket to expand. 

In plaiting up to the point where the basket expands, the 
encircling bamboo slat passes over two ribs and under two 
ribs, but at the corners it must pass over or under three or 
four ribs. This forms the point in the twilled pattern. 
When three circles have been plaited, the four corners are 
formed and strengthened by placing at each corner, with its 
end inserted through the circle already plaited, an upright 
split bamboo retaining its outer covering. Another hoop 
for the top of the basket is now placed inside the ribs at the 
desired height. 

Ribs are added at regular intervals, beginning with one 
at each side of the four bamboos forming the corners. These 


extra ribs are inserted from the top after every second or 
third turn of the encircling slat, which is plaited round as 
before over two and under two upright ribs and vice versa, 
except at the corners and at the green centre bamboo on 
each side of the basket, where it is necessary for the encircling 
strip to pass either under or over from one to four ribs, as 
by this means the pattern for the point is formed. If the 
lower of the encircling slats forming the point should pass 
over four ribs, then the next above must pass over three, and 
the third over one, to form the point of the pattern. 

When the encircling slat has reached the top of the basket, 
the hoop which was placed inside at the point where the 
basket begins to expand is discarded, and the hoop at the 
top and another cane hoop to encircle the outer side are 
placed side by side at the top of the basket where the ends 
of the ribs have been cut off. These two hoops are tied 
tightly together by a split cane looped over the two hoops 
and knotted at intervals of about 1 inch. A flat piece of 
split cane is laid over the tops of the ribs so that no rough 
edges are visible and so that the hoops and the cane form 
a firm edging to the basket (cf. Fig. 2, p. 119). 


A small basket used for measuring rice and grain ; when 
heaped full it contains two pounds. 

This basket is made from fine split bamboos about one- 
eighth of an inch wide. To plait it three bamboo strips are 
placed obliquely, crossing over another three strips, so that 
the strips cross each other exactly in the centre. More strips 
are then placed at each side of these first six. The first 
must be plaited over two and under one, the next under two 
and over two, and so on until sufficient has been plaited for 
the bottom of the basket that is, about 5 inches square. 
The bottom of the basket is then strengthened by placing 
two crossed sticks with sharpened points under five plaits 
at each corner. The bamboo strips to form the sides of the 
basket are carefully bent upwards, slanting across each 
other, the bamboo strips coming up from one side of a 


corner being plaited into the strips coming up on the other 
side, under two and over two, and vice versa, as before, 
until the necessary height is reached that is, about 3 inches. 
The ends of the bamboo strips at the top of the basket are 
then twisted together to form a rim. The strip on the 
outside is twisted across over two and the end tucked 
underneath, while that from the inside is twisted over two 
in the opposite direction. This makes a strong twisted 
edge to the basket (cf. Figs. 6 and 6a, p. 115). 


A basket used in the house in which to keep grain. 

It is made from strips of split bamboo about half an 
inch wide. The basket is about 15 inches square, the 
height being the same as the size of the square. The kachu 
is plaited in exactly the same way as the sailchua 
already described. When the kachu has been plaited arid 
strengthened below by the two crossed sticks reaching from 
corner to corner, two other supports are added. The rim is 
encircled by two bamboo hoops, which make the top of 
the basket quite round. The bamboo hoops are covered by 
hoops of cane tied down at intervals of about 1 inch, which 
makes a firm and neat edging. The corners are strengthened 
by four split bamboos from which the outer green covering 
on one side has not been removed. These bamboos, which 
are twice the height of the basket, are placed one at each 
corner and bent in half at the rim of the basket, so that one 
piece strengthens the outside and the other the inside of 
the basket. The end of the piece on the outside forms a 
foot. Loops of knotted cane are passed through the plaiting 
about 1 inch apart and tied round these corner bamboos to 
hold them firmly in position. 


The basket called tlabai is a large round measure used in 

paying the rice due to the chief, and when rice or any other 

grain is sold to another village. Three tlabai full of grain 

are valued at one rupee. The basket is lined, and is about 



a cubit high and a cubit in diameter. The lining is plaited 
in exactly the same way as the Icachu, and is made of split 
bamboo strips about half an inch wide. When the inner 
lining is complete it is turned upside down and the outer 
covering is plaited on to it. Half-inch wide split bamboo 
strips are slipped under the crossed sticks, strengthening 
the bottom of the basket. These strips are placed half an 
inch apart, and the transverse strips are also placed half an 
inch apart and plaited across each other, over one and under 
one and vice versa, with the half -inch space between, until 
the bottom of the basket is complete. The strips of split 
bamboo are then gently bent upwards and are plaited under 
one and over one as before ; then for the next three rounds 
they are plaited close together. The upright strips of split 
bamboo arc tied above the top of the basket and the en- 
circling strip is plaited in as before, under one and over one 
and vice versa. When the basket is of the desired height, 
two split bamboo hoops, with the outer green covering 
retained, are placed round the rim and tied together with 
cane, knotted about 1 inch apart. The corners of the tlabai 
are strengthened with four split bamboos in exactly the same 
way as in the Icachu. 


The phavaw-pawkho is a small shallow basket used for the 
food eaten by a man who is making a sacrifice. The plait 
is the same as that used for the saikhua. Three split bamboos 
one-eighth of an inch wide are placed across each other at 
a slant, and then passed over three and under three and vice 
versa, followed by a plait over one and under two, then over 
two and under one, and then a continuation over two and 
under two and vice versa. The bottom of the basket is 
strengthened with two crossed bamboos. When a depth of 
about 2 inches has been plaited to form the sides, a further 
two rows are plaited in and turned over on to the outside 
of the basket and two more rows are added. The edge of 
this basket is finished off by having the ends neatly turned 
back into the plait. The sides of the basket are therefore 
double (cf. Fig. 5, p. 115). 





The pawkho is an ornamental basket-work plate resting on 
a plinth of ari cane (Calamus erectus, Roxb.) in double cycloid 
pattern. It stands 4 to 6 inches high, including the plinth, 
and the plate is about 10 inches in diameter. The plate is 
made of fine split bamboos one-eighth of an inch wide. 
Different-coloured slats arc often plaited in at different 
angles, half the slats being smoked dark brown while the 
others are kept in their natural colour. 

The plaiting is started with three split bamboos on each 
side, into which slats are plaited under two and over two 
and vice versa, in exactly the same way as in the basket 
called kachu. When sufficient has been plaited to form 
the plate, the split bamboos are cut off to form a complete 
round, and two hoops of split bamboo showing the rounded 
side outermost are tied firmly to form a neat edging. These 
are slightly smaller than the outer circle of the plate, and 
force the plate into a concave shape, so that it is suitable 
for holding food. 

To form the plinth, two pieces of split cane carefully 
rounded are twisted in and out, forming a double cycloid 
coil as follows : the two pieces of cane for the coil are held 
in the left hand and made into a loop about 2 inches in 
diameter. The ends of the cane are passed through this 
loop from above to form another loop of exactly the same 
size. This is continued until sufficient loops have been 
coiled into each other to form the plinth. Two strips of 
split bamboo about 1 inch wide are then placed in two circles, 
one above and one below the cycloid loops, the upper circle 
being slightly smaller than the lower. The cycloid loops are 
tied tightly to these two circles with narrow bamboo strips, 
which pass through small holes in the flat strips joining the 
circles. The plate is then tied on to the upper split bamboo 
circle in four places exactly opposite each other (cf. Pig. 2, 
p. 115). 


The baitarupa is a large basket for storing rice in the 
house. The base of this basket is 3 feet square and the 


height is 4 feet. The lining is plaited in a twilled pattern 
over two and under two alternately. Six or eight split 
bamboos half an inch wide are placed in front of the basket- 
maker. Every second two are lifted and a transverse piece 
of split bamboo is inserted. To form a twiDed pattern the 
first transverse strip is plaited under two and over two. 
The second strip is placed over one and under two. After 
this the plaiting is continued over two and under two. 
When the basket is completed all the strips appear to have 
been placed under two and over two and vice versa. The 
basket is strengthened by two crossed sticks run from 
corner to corner at the bottom. When sufficient has been 
plaited for the bottom of the basket, the slats are tied up 
over the top and the encircling strip is carried on over 
two and under two and vice versa until the top of the 
basket is reached. The encircling strip must be con- 

The outer covering of this double basket is made of strips 
of bamboo half an inch wide. For the bottom of the basket 
the strips are placed about half an inch apart. They are 
slipped between the lining of the basket and the two crossed 
sticks which strengthen it below. The strips are plaited 
half an inch apart, over one and under one and vice versa. 
When the sides of the basket are reached, the encircling strip 
is plaited tightly, leaving no gap between the successive 
coils, and this is continued until the top of the basket is 
reached. Here the ends of the ribs are cut off straight and 
covered with two bamboo hoops, one inside and the other 
outside, and tied tightly together with loops of cane. 


The dapi is a flat tray for drying the rice in the sun, 
and is about 3| feet long by 3 feet wide. It is plaited in 
exactly the same way as the viakuarina, but the strips of 
bamboo are placed close together so that the grain 
cannot fall through. The rim of the dapi is strengthened 
by two split bamboo hoops tied tightly together with loops 
of cane. 



The bara is a tray used for sifting rice, and is about the 
same size as the vialcuarina, the measurements being 2 feet 
by 1| feet. The sides are about 2J inches high. 

This basket is plaited with strips of split bamboo exactly 
like the dapi, and its rim is also strengthened with bamboo 
hoops tied with cane. 


The viakuarina is a sieve for cleaning rice, about 2 feet 
long by \\ feet wide, the sides being 2 inches high. 

The split bamboo strips for plaiting this basket are a 
little less than one-eighth of an inch wide, and are placed 
about the same distance apart. Six strips are laid on the 
ground, with the desired space between, and five transverse 
strips plaited in, the first over two and under two, the second 
over one, and then under two and over two continuously, 
the third over two and under two. The fourth is under one 
and then continuously over two and under two, like the 
second. By this means a twilled pattern is formed. The 
strips are plaited in in this way until the desired size is 
attained. Two crossed sticks are added below for strength. 

To form the sides two of the upright strips are placed 
together, and the encircling strip passes under and over these 
alternately. When about 3 inches have been plaited the 
ends of the upright strips are cut off, turned back and tucked 
into the plaiting to make a firm edging. 


The baiba is a lined barrel-shaped basket used for storing 
clothes and valuables. It is a possession which will last for 
years, and takes the place of the cabin trunk of civilisation. 
It is 1 foot square at the bottom, and rests on four strong 
bamboo feet. Its height from the foot to the top of the 
cover is about 2 feet and its circumference about 50 inches. 
The lining is made first of split bamboo strips half an inch 
wide, the bottom being plaited in exactly the same way as 





the bottoms of the dapi and bara, and strengthened below 
by the two crossed bamboos. When about a square foot 
has been plaited for the bottom of the lining the ribs are 
bent upwards and tied in a bunch above the top of the basket. 
The sides are plaited in the same way as the bottom up 
to the point where the shoulder which carries the cover 
begins. Here, to give the necessary curve inwards, the ribs 
are placed two together, in the same way as for the sides of 
the viakuarina, and the encircling strip passes over one and 
under one for about 4 inches. The ends of the ribs are then 
shortened and tucked back into the plait. This leaves a 
circular opening about 9 inches across at the top of the basket. 
The narrow strips of split bamboo used for plaiting the out- 
side of the basket retain their green outer covering. 

To plait the outer basket, the lining is turned upside down 
and the slats for the bottom are slipped between the two 
crossed sticks about a quarter of an inch apart and plaited 
in under one and over one and vice versa. These slats are 
placed a quarter of an inch apart until the edges of the bottom 
of the basket are reached, when they are plaited close together 
for about four rows. The ribs are then bent upwards and 
tied above. The four bamboos which form the feet and 
strengthen the corners of the basket are then put into 
position. These bamboos are cut into shape, so that the 
solid ends forming the feet come quite underneath the body 
of the basket. The plaiting then continues, over one and 
under one, leaving no space between the slats until the turn 
or shoulder of the basket is reached. The 4 inches for the 
shoulder are plaited over one and under one and vice versa 
until the last line round the opening. Here the ribs arc 
placed two together to draw them in so as to reduce the size 
of the opening, and the slats pass over each two and under 
each two. The ribs are then cut off round the mouth of 
the opening and split cane hoops are tied over these ends 
and held in place by loops of cane tied about 1 inch apart. 
This makes the edge of the opening quite neat and firm. 

The cover of the baiba is plaited in exactly the same way 
as the basket. The lining is made first and strengthened 
with two crossed sticks. The strips for the outside of the 


cover are then slipped through these two crossed sticks and 
are plaited about a quarter of an inch apart, over one and 
under one and vice versa until the edge of the top, which is 
about 8 inches square, is reached. For the sides of the cover 
the strips are plaited close together. This cover is modelled 
to fit tightly on to the shoulder of the basket, so for the sides 
the ribs are placed two together, and the slat passes over 
each two and under each two and vice versa. For the edge 
of the cover it is necessary to expand, so the ribs are spread 
out again gradually until they are half an inch apart, the 
slat passing under one and over one and vice versa. The 
edge of the cover is then strengthened with the three hoops 
of cane tied together with loops of cane. The top of the 
cover, and also the shoulder of the basket, arc ornamented 
with a strip of cane loops formed from one single narrow cane 
looped in the following manner over a narrow round cane. 
The end of the split cane is passed under the round cane, 
brought up over it and looped over its end. This is repeated 
to whatever length is required, and has the effect of a plait 
in three. To keep the cover firmly in position, two pieces 
of cane just long enough to meet above the cover are tied 
on to the corner posts 1 inch below the shoulder of the basket. 
Just below these loops at the front of the basket two cane 
slots arc made to hold the carrying band, which is also run 
through two smaller slots at the bottom of the basket 
behind. The pattern of the inside of this basket is called 
abopa in Lakher and bawta in Lushei, while the pattern of 
the outside is called apipa in Lakher and malkalh in Lushei 
(cf. Figs. 3, 3a, 3b, p. 119). 

JBongton g. 

The bongtong is a tiny replica of the baiba, and is plaited 
in exactly the same way. It can justly be described as a 
work of art. It is 6 inches high, including the four small 
bamboo feet, 1 inch high, upon which it stands, and is a 
little more than twice its height in diameter. The bongtong 
is used by the women for keeping the small pieces of different- 
coloured cotton or silk used for the patterns on cloths and 
bags. The cover is permanently attached to the basket by 


two fibres, which are kept in position by being passed through 
six small loops ; one underneath the basket in the centre, 
one on each side about half an inch below the shoulder, one 
on each side of the cover and one in the centre on the top. 
By this means the cover can be raised and opened although 
still attached to the basket. The strips of bamboo used are 
only one-eighth of an inch wide, and the ornamentation is 
formed by very narrow strips of cane (cf. Fig. 3, p. 115). 
The following are also plaited in abopa pattern : 


A small basket tied round the waist for holding the seeds 
of grain for planting in the fields. It is plaited from narrow 
strips of bamboo and tied with strips of cane (cf. Fig. 4, 
p. 115). 


A man's plaited carrying-band. The brow and shoulder 
bands are made of plaited ari cane (Calamus erectus, Roxb.), 
and the ends, which are tied round the load, of rope made out 
of the bark of the pazo tree (Hibiscus macrophyllus, Roxb.) 
(cf. Fig. 7, p. 115). 


A woman's carrying-band. The browband is made of ari 
cane, and the ends are attached to the load by pazo ropes 
(cf. Fig. 6, p. 119). 


The dawkia is a large basket more or less roughly made. 
Its base is about 7 or 8 inches across, and its height about 
1^ feet. It is made as light as possible, as it is used by the 
women for carrying home anything required for household 
use, such as a load of vegetables from the jhum, wood, or 
water-tubes. The basket is loosely plaited with quarter 
inch wide split bamboos. The base of the basket is plaited 
over one and under one, with a space of half an inch between 
each strip, and is strengthened with two crossed sticks from 
corner to corner. When sufficient has been plaited for the 


base, the ribs are all tied together at the top of the basket, 
and the continuous strip encircles them under one and over 
one and vice versa for 4 to 6 inches. Then the ribs, which 
were tied above, are loosened to allow the basket to expand, 
and the encircling strip continues over one and under one 
and vice versa, which makes the basket wider at the top than 
at the base. To finish off the ribs at the top, 'each rib is 
twisted and turned back inside the plait. The following 
baskets are made in exactly the same plait : lawbu > sanghri, 
awhbeu and awhchari (cf. Fig. 5, p. 119). 


The lawbu is a basket used by the men for bringing home 
anything required from the jhum or the jungle. This basket 
is made in exactly the same way as the dawkia, but is of a 
different shape. 

It is about 10 inches by 5 inches across the top, and about 
1| feet high. The bamboo slats are plaited with spaces 
between at the base to give lightness, and are continued up 
the sides over one and under one with the slats closer to- 
gether. The basket is strengthened round the edge by two 
hoops of split bamboo, one inside and one outside, tied 
tightly together with cane looped over both hoops and 
knotted at every inch. 

This basket has four handles to hold the carrying-band, 
one at each side near the top, one in the middle near the top, 
and one in the middle near the bottom. 


A sanghri is a large flat piece of basket-work upon which 
tobacco leaves are placed for drying in the sun. It is about 
4 feet long by 3 feet wide and about 3 inches in height at the 
sides. It resembles the viakuarina, but is more roughly made. 
The crossed bamboo slats pass over one and under one, 
with a space between to form the base. It is strengthened 
underneath by crossed sticks. The slats for the sides are 
bent upwards as in the viakiuirina, and the encircling slat 
passes over one and under one. 



The awhbeu is a square basket used for carrying chickens, 
and is about 14 inches square and 20 inches high. The floor 
is of latticed open-work to allow the droppings to fall through, 
and is strengthened by two crossed bamboos. The sides are 
plaited with thin bamboo slats close together, the encircling 
slat passing over one and under one until the necessary 
height is reached. The upright bamboo slats are split down 
the centre, so that they retain their green outer covering. 
An opening is made in one side of the basket big enough for 
one chicken to enter by removing some of the upright slats 
and turning the encircling slats back over each other so that 
there are no sharp edges to hurt the chickens. At each side 
of this opening two split bamboos extending from a little 
below the opening to a little above it are placed, so as to 
support a small plaited door, which slides to and fro between 
them. The door is a square piece of plaiting over one and 
under one, just large enough to fill in the opening. A piece 
of bamboo is passed between the two upright bamboos and 
the door to keep it shut, and is tied on to the basket by a 
piece of cane, so that it hangs beside the door ready for use. 
The top of the basket is squeezed together and the two ends 
are oversewn with a bamboo slat. A looped cane forms the 
handle. The awhbeu is generally used for shutting up hens 
and their broods (cf. Fig. 4, p. 119). 


This long round basket is slung up under the eaves and 
used as a roosting place for chickens. It is about 4i feet 
in diameter and about 6 feet long, with a small door at one 
end, which is shut at night to protect the chickens from 
prowling jungle-cats. 

The bamboo slats for the awhchari are about half an inch 
wide and have to be 1 foot longer than the basket, as they 
are twisted in to form a rounded end. The encircling slat 
passes over one and under one and vice versa. When about 
six rounds have been plaited, the rounded back of the basket 
is formed by the ends of the horizontal slats being bent right 


over and tucked into the plaiting on the opposite side of 
the basket. The second slat to be bent over crosses over the 
first slat and is placed between the next two horizontal slats 
opposite. The slats are held in place by the hand until half 
are bent over, the remainder are then passed under those 
already in place and are brought out again and over two 
crossed encircling slats to the opposite side. By this means 
a small hole with a neatly twisted edging is formed in the 
middle of the end of the basket. The slats which have been 
passed through to the opposite side are cut off to the desired 
length and tucked back into the encircling slat, which is then 
continued until the front of the basket is reached. The 
front is finished oil in the same way as the back, but the 
hole formed has to be large enough to allow a chicken to 
enter, and the protruding ribs which have been bent across 
are not cut off, but stick out like a frill all round ; an en- 
circling slat is then passed over one and under one of the 
protruding ribs, and the ribs are passed back through the 
encircling slat. By this means the entrance to the basket 
is made secure, so that the chickens cannot push their way 
out again. 

A door made of a flat piece of wood is slipped between two 
bamboo uprights tied with cane, one on each side of the 
entrance. These are kept firmly in position by two pieces 
of bamboo broader than the thickness of the wooden door 
placed one above and one below the opening so that the 
door slips down through the uprights. A long piece of wood 
1 foot longer than the basket is then attached to the top of 
the basket to prevent it swaying, and is tied at both ends 
and in the middle with strips of cane, by which it is hung up 
in position. The chickens climb up the ladder to roost as 
soon as it is dark, and the owner shuts the door, and opens 
it again in the early morning (cj. Fig. 11, in diagram, p. 70). 


An open-work basket about 2| feet high and about 1 foot 
square at the base, used as a carrying-basket for any load 
required on a journey, so it is made as light as possible, and 


is not expected to last very long, as it can be plaited quickly 
when necessary and can be made of any suitable size. 
According to the size required, the split bamboos are 1 or 
14 inches wide and the slats are placed 1 inch or further 

To plait this basket the strips of bamboo are placed as 
follows : 

Two strips are held in position about 1 inch or more apart ; 
two other strips are then placed under and over the first 
two in a slanting position, two more strips 1 inch or more 
apart are twisted under and over the two first strips slanting 
in the opposite direction. Strips are plaited in, alternately 
slanting in opposite directions, until the basket is complete. 
The ribs are then held in position by encircling slats passing 
over one and under one, as far apart as required, until the 
rim of the basket is reached. The rim is made of three strips 
of bamboo placed tightly together over one and under one. 
The tops of the ribs are turned back and tucked into the rim. 


A light basket used by the women for the same purposes 
as the Dawkia. 

It is about 2 feet high, and is plaited from strips of split 
bamboo about a quarter of an inch wide. The strips are 
placed in pairs, with a corresponding space between, and the 
encircling strip is passed under one pair and over the other 
pair alternately, leaving the same space between, until about 
8 inches square has been plaited. The bottom of the basket 
is then strengthened by two crossed bamboos. The ribs are 
bent upwards and tied over the basket. Three encircling 
strips of a particularly strong bamboo rahniapa (Dendro- 
calamus Hooker i, Munro) are plaited through over two ribs 
and under two ribs and vice versa for three rounds. After 
this the ribs are entwined, each rib being placed across the 
one next to it, and a long strip of bamboo is passed thrice 
through the ribs over one and under one. This encircling 
strip above the entwined ribs is repeated twice, the strips 
being about 3 inches apart. 


The rim is made of three strips of bamboo, and the ends 
of the ribs are turned back, twisted and slipped into the rim. 
The plait of this basket is known as hmbeuchei, but the plait 
of the bottom of the basket is apipa. 


A small open-work basket, made of quarter-inch wide 
split bamboo, which is hung up near the hearth and used 
for storing spoons. This basket is a smaller edition of the 
hrabeu, and is plaited in exactly the same way (cf. Fig. 1, 
p. 115). 


Lakhers make only one kind of bamboo matting, called 
apJii. These mats are made in all sizes up to about 10 feet 
long by 8 feet wide. They are made in the abopa or twilled 
pattern. Bamboos are cut into slats about half an inch wide. 
In making the slats the outer covering of the bamboo is 
removed, only the inner skin being used. The slats are 
plaited together in the abopa pattern. When the mat has 
been made as large as desired, the ends of the slats are bent 
back and folded between the plaiting. These mats are used 
for sleeping on, sitting on and for drying paddy in the sun. 


While on the subject of cane and bamboo work, mention 
must be made of the cane bridges called lileiri, with which 
the larger rivers are spanned during the rains. A spot is 
selected, preferably with suitable trees on each bank, as 
otherwise tall wooden posts have to be erected, and cane 
ropes are strung across the river from bank to bank and 
attached to the trees. These cane ropes, tied together, are 
used for each side of the bridge. From these ropes cane 
hoops 5 feet high and 4 feet broad are hung at intervals of 
47 inches, and tied on to the suspending ropes above. The 
floor, which consists of six long cane ropes, rests on the bottom 
of the hoops, and is tied on to them with cane, each end of 
the canes forming the floor being attached to a log of wood 


fixed between the trees or posts, as the case may be, which 
form the uprights. To prevent the bridge from swaying 
excessively, cane ropes are taken from the suspending canes 
and tied on to trees ; generally about four of these guy- 
ropes are run up from each side of the bridge. These cane 
bridges are used for crossing unfordable rivers like the Kolo- 
dyne and the Tisi. The cane used is ari (Calamus erectus, 

For small rivers rough bridges called hleideu are built, 
consisting of two crossed posts at each end, over which four 
bamboos are run to make a pathway. 


All pottery work is done by old women who have never 
been married and by widows. It is ana for unmarried girls 
and for married women whose husbands are alive to make 
pots. The reason for this prohibition is the belief that 
when a woman is tapping the potter's clay over a stone to 
shape the pot, she might by mistake hit her husband's soul 
on the head and so kill him. A husband's soul is believed 
to hover about his wife, and the soul of a man to hover 
round his future wife, so it might easily be in the way when 
a woman is making pots and get hurt. It is not definitely 
ana for men to make pots, but they never do so. When 
a woman proposes to make pots, she first goes off to the 
jungle and collects some clay thrown up by termites. The 
outer clay is not used ; she digs down a foot or two and takes 
the lower clay, which is darker in colour and is said to be 
of a better consistency. Having deposited this in her house, 
the potter collects a quantity of very small pebbles about 
the size of S.G. shot, such as are found on river-banks. 
The potter's clay is mixed with these fine pebbles and 
kneaded in a wooden trough or on a flat stone. When it 
has attained the desired consistency, it is rolled into a ball, 
wrapped up in leaves and left for three nights to set. When 
she starts work the potter takes sufficient clay to make the 
pot required, and places it on a mat on the floor. In her 
left hand she has a stone which she pushes into the lump of 




clay ; in her right she holds a mallet called beiphia, with 
which she slowly taps the clay into shape against the stone. 
When the pot has been knocked into shape, it is dried in 
the sun. When the pots are dry they are placed close 
together on branches of dry chestnut wood, and small dry 
sticks are piled up over them in a high heap. This heap is 
set alight on the top, and when the fire has died down the 
pots are taken out, and while still hot are filled with rice 
water, which is believed to strengthen them and make them 
less brittle. They are now ready for use. Any one wanting 
some pots made collects the clay and the pebbles, takes 
them to the potter, and tells her what pots he requires. 
The potter must be given enough rice and meat for one meal 
when the contract is made, payment being made when the 
pots are finished. 

For making the clay bowls of women's pipes, a special 
method is followed. The clay is prepared in the same way 
as described, except that no pebbles are added to it. The 
top of a paddy pestle is tied to one of the verandah posts, 
so that the post, the pestle and the floor make a triangle. 
Then, small holes are bored in the post and the pestle, about 
the height of a man's knee from the floor, so as to admit a 
small wooden stick pointed at each end, called karolusong. 
A lump of clay the size of a fist is taken, the karolusong is 
run through the middle of it, and is then placed in position 
on the triangle. The potter's assistant takes a cubit of 
cotton string, ties a small stick to each end of it to afford 
a hand grip, and then twists it twice round the karolusong r . 
The assistant, by pulling the string first with one hand and 
then with the other, causes the karolusong which carries the 
clay to revolve. The potter sits on the other side of the 
triangle. In her right hand she holds a sharp-edged piece 
of split bamboo about 8 inches long and half an inch wide, 
called thaipahniapa, and in her left hand a stout piece of 
split bamboo about a cubit long. As the karolusong revolves, 
she works the clay into shape with the thaipahniapa, which 
she wets from time to time in her mouth, and steadies her 
hand by resting it on the bamboo stick held in her left hand. 
When the pipe-bowl has acquired the right shape and smooth- 


ness, it is removed from the karolusong, and the bowl is 
hollowed out with the thaipahniapa. The bowl is then dried 
in the sun and fired as already described. Not by any means 
every old woman can make pipe-bowls in this way, as the 
process requires more skill than making cooking-pots. A 
skilled worker makes about twenty pipe-bowls in a day. 
Any woman, married or single, can make pipe-bowls ; no ana 
attaches to this work, the reason given being that as the 
pipe-bowls are not tapped with a stick, like earthenware 
cooking-pots, there is no danger for the soul of the potter's 
husband. (See p. 38 for photograph.) 

The women never ornament their pots. Sometimes the 
potter's daughter or another girl will ornament the lids 
with a circle like the face of the sun, which is scratched 
on to the soft clay with a hairpin before it is fired. I am 
told that this pattern has no particular significance and is 
merely to adorn the lid. 

The Lakher women only make cooking-pots and the bowls 
of the women's pipes. The large beer-pots are all pur- 
chased. The largest of all, called racha, are brought from 
Arakan, the next in size, longrai, come from Demagiri, while 
the raipi, beirai and raitapa are all bought from the Chins. 


The string and rope most commonly used by the Lakhers 
are made out of the bark of a tree called pazo (Hibiscus 
macrophyllus, Roxb.). A pazo sapling is cut, the skin is 
peeled off, the outer skin is thrown away, the lower skin is 
kept and the juice squeezed out of it by holding it against 
the sole of the foot and running a dao along it. After this 
it is dried in the sun, and is then ready for use. The string 
is used in single strands and also twisted, the twist being 
made by rolling the strips of raw bark against the thigh. A 
two-ply twist is made by taking two strips of raw bark, 
tying them together at one end, and rolling first each strip 
separately and then the two together against the thigh. To 
make a three-ply twist, a single strip of bark is rolled against 
the thigh as described, and is then knotted on to the end of 


the two-ply cord and twisted on to it with the fingers to 
make a three-ply twist. Each end of the rope is secured 
with a half-hitch (richakhi). Twisted threads and cords, 
whether of bark or of cotton thread, are all known as chari. 
Cane ropes are never twisted, but are used in unworked 
strands. Bark string is used for every imaginable purpose. 
Cotton string is also used. For tying brass belts a large 
number of single cotton threads are run through the belt. 
The threads are not twisted, but are just knotted together 
at each end. For an edging to fishing-nets twisted cotton 
thread is used. To make this thread two people are re- 
quired. They sit down, the distance between them varying 
with the length of string required, and roll the two threads 
down their right thighs till they are thoroughly twisted, 
when they roll them up their thighs, and thus produce a 
two-ply twisted thread. 


Lakhers have a number of different kinds of knots, each 
with its own special use. 

Seichori chakJii The fisherman's knot, also sometimes called an English- 
man's knot. Used for joining short bits of cane or 
bark rope together to make a long rope for tying up 

Palo . . . The double -sheet bend. Another knot used for joining 
up cane or bark ropes. 

Chakhi lapi . The Tom-Fool knot. Used for tying things up so that 
they may bo untied easily. 

Raireurichakhi The reef knot. Used for joining cane or bark ropes 
together and also for tying up bamboos and wood. 

Richakhi . . The half -hitch. Used for tying things up temporarily. 

Chakhi . . A loop. Used for tying a bowstring on to the stave, for 
tying cane on to posts, for hanging cloths out to dry, 
for setting the rat trap called viakhang, and for many 
other purposes. 

Heibaw . . A noose. Used chiefly in setting snares for birds and 
beasts. If a man wants to catch one of his pigs, he 
slips a heibaw under the pig's foot as it is eating its 
food and pulls it tight. It is also used for tying round 
the horns of a mithun or round its neck when it is 
desired to lead it anywhere. 

Cheisiaripasi . The knot used for tying on the cane string of a pellet bow 
and of the bow used for nicking raw cotton. 

Angsaripasi . The catspaw. The knot used for tying down the bamboos 
on the top of the roof of a house. 





A method of tying together bamboos or other things so 
that they may be carried conveniently. Bamboo slats 
are wound twice or thrice round the objects to be tied 
together, the ends of the slats are held together and 
twisted round and round until they form a twisted 
knot, and are then tucked in under the folds going 
round the objects tied together, so as to prevent the 
knot from coming undone. 










Lakhers are poor carpenters ; the only tools they have are 
daos and a combined axe and adze. The principal articles 
made are planks for beds and the walls and floors of some 
of the chief's houses, paddy mortars and pestles, pillows, 
drums, house-posts, pig-troughs, the handles and sheaths of 
daos, various parts of the loom and other articles connected 
with weaving, and the wooden bellows used in the forge. 

A paddy mortar is called songkho. To make it, a Jchaimei 
tree (Schima Wallichii) is felled and cut in 2-feet lengths 
with an axe, and one side of the 2-feet log is hollowed out 
with an axe. When the hole is sufficiently deep, wood 
shavings arc set alight inside it in order to make the surface 
smooth and polished. The pestle is called songkhai, and is 
made out of any fairly lasting wood, being 5 feet or 5| feet 
long and 9 inches in circumference. Pestles are always 
thicker at the ends than in the centre, which is made thinner 
to give a good grip. 

Planks are called chhuahri, and their manufacture is a 
very tedious process. A large tree with fairly soft wood is 
felled ; the bark is all taken off, and, after deciding how 
many planks can be cut out of it, the edges of the planks are 
marked on the wood with charcoal or earth. Supposing 
that the tree is large enough to supply five planks when 
sawn, by the Lakher method only two planks will be obtained. 
When the planks have been marked on the surface of the log, 
every other plank is chipped away with an adze, leaving only 
one plank for every two that are wasted by being chipped 
out. It thus takes a very long time and wastes a great deal 
of wood to make a few planks. When a plank has been cut 
out in this way, its surface is smoothed off by chipping away 
excrescences with an adze. 

House-posts are called angtong. The trees most commonly 
used are asi (Castanopsis tribuloides) and patong (Lager- 
stroemia flos reginae). The best posts are made out of the 
heart of these two trees after the outer wood has been eaten 
away by white ants, but green posts are also used. The 
heart of the aveu (Gmelina arborea, Roxb.) is also used, but 


never its green wood, as it is too soft. Having felled the 
tree, one end is split with an axe to admit of the insertion 
of wooden wedges called sikhai, which are driven into the 
tree with a wooden club until it is split down its whole length. 
Six or eight posts can be obtained out of a good-sized tree, 
each post being split off in the same way. The posts are 
smoothed off with an adze or a dao. Timber is not generally 
seasoned, but is used as soon as it has been cut. Lakhers 
say that it lasts better if put in position in the soil while 
the sap is still exuding, and that it is less liable to the attacks 
of white ants. 

Woodwork is joined together by lashings of ari cane 
(Calamus erectus, Roxb.). When joining two beams together, 
1 or 2 feet at the end of each is cut away to half its thickness. 
The two cut ends are fitted together and lashed round with 


Leather is non-existent. Hide, however, is occasionally 
used. The skins of wild animals and of any mithun that 
may have been slaughtered are stretched on a wooden or 
bamboo frame and dried in the sun. No attempt is made to 
cure the skins or to clean them with wood ash. When 
thoroughly dry the skins are used for sleeping and sitting 
upon. The skins of barking deer and serow are used for the 
membrane of drums. 


The Lakhers appear to have known how to make gun- 
powder for many years. Colonel Lewin mentions the fact 
that they made their own powder when he visited the Shendu 
country in 1865. 1 Lusheis, Kukis and Chins are all familiar 
with the art. I have not been able to discover whence they 
learnt it, but presumably it was from the Chinese. Hodson 2 
says that the Kukis learnt the art from the Meitheis, who 
had been taught it by Chinese merchants who visited the 
State during the reign of Khagenba about 1630. It is 

1 T. H. Lewin, The Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Dwellers Therein, p. 1 13. 
N. E. P. 

* T. C. Hodson, The Naga Tribes of Manipur, p. 38. N. E. P. 


probable therefore that the Lakhers acquired their know- 
ledge, whether directly or indirectly, from the same source. 
The method of manufacture is simple. Lakhers keep all 
their animals, pigs, goats and mithun under their houses. 
These defecate under the houses, and as the Lakhers them- 
selves also let their own urine and ordure fall beneath the 
house, the soil becomes saturated with urine and dung. 
This mixture of soil and filth is carefully preserved, and not 
allowed to be washed away by the rains and lost. When a 
sufficient amount of fouled soil has been collected, a large 
openwork basket is made, lined with leaves, and filled with 
the soil. This basket is hung between two posts, a large pot 
is placed underneath it, and water is then poured on to the 
soil and, passing through it, is collected in the receptacle 
beneath the basket. The water that comes through is of a 
red colour, and they continue to pour water on to the soil 
till it comes through quite clear. The liquid so collected is 
boiled for two or three hours, and is then poured off into a 
wooden trough to cool and is left till it crystallises. The 
nitrate crystals are dried in the sun and mixed with charcoal 
made from the thohmaw tree (Rhus semi alata) or from the 
wood of the lemon Isa (Citrus medica, Linn.) in the propor- 
tion of one seer of crystals to two seers of charcoal. This 
mixture is thoroughly pounded in a mortar, and a little 
water and spirit are added. When it has been sufficiently 
pounded, it is dried in the sun, and can then be used as 
gunpowder. The powder made by this process is quite 
powerful, but gives out a lot of smoke. The manufacture, 
however, is tedious, and from about twenty seers of nitrate 
water only about a quarter of a seer of gunpowder can be 

The Lakhers originally used no sulphur in making gun- 
powder, and in Savang and Chapi it is still made without 
that element. 1 The addition of a little spirit when the 
nitrate and charcoal are being pounded is said to strengthen 
the powder. 

1 The sulphur necessary to make gunpowder is perhaps contained in the 
forces from which the nitre is made, and in the charcoal. Cf. Carey and 
Tuck, The Chin HilU, Vol. I, p. 225. J. H. H. 


Bullets are made of iron in the blacksmith's forge. Some 
of this iron is bought in Lungleh bazaar ; a goodly proportion, 
however, is stolen from Government bridges, as Lakhers 
have no scruples about removing screws, bolts, pieces of 
telegraph wire, and any odd scrap of iron that can be broken 
off without too great difficulty. All this goes into the melting 
pot and emerges in the shape of bullets. 

Caps are purchased in Lungleh. Till quite recently the 
Lakhers possessed nothing but flintlocks, for which caps are 
not required. 


Like all hill tribes, Lakhers are devoted to hunting, both 
for the sport it affords and for the meat that it produces. 
There are two Lakher names for hunting. Sachadi is 
tracking and stalking. Rakhi is the term used when a 
party of men goes out to look for game. The weapon used 
is always a gun. Spears are sometimes carried for self- 
protection, but no one nowadays would deliberately go out 
hunting armed only with a spear. Bows and arrows are 
never used nowadays, and no use is made of dogs. Any 
one is entitled to shoot or trap animals where he likes, 
whether in the lands belonging to his own chief or in another 
chief's lands, and the meat due, sahaw, is payable to the 
chief in whose village the hunter resides, and not to the chief 
in whose lands the animal was killed. Lakhers generally go 
out and wander through the jungle after game in the hope 
that they will be lucky and run into something. They also 
both track the game and stalk it when they have viewed it. 
They often sit up at salt licks and lie in wait in paddy and 
maize fields for the animals that come to devour the crops. 
It is customary for the villagers to appoint a man known as 
the Sapahlaisapa to sacrifice a cock to ensure good hunting. 
He must be ceremonially pure, and cannot perform the 
sacrifice if any of the women of his family are pregnant or 
menstruous. The cock for the sacrifice is provided by 
another villager. The Sapahlaisapa performs the sacrifice 
outside the village fence, and he and his family eat the cock 
that was sacrificed. The man who provides the cock gets 


a foreleg without the shoulder of every wild animal killed 
by a villager during the year. The Sapahlaisapa is appointed 
yearly, but if the last year's sacrifice has been efficacious, the 
same man is usually reappointed. If anj^ one fails to pay 
his dues to the provider of the cock, he has to pay him a fowl 
as compensation. 

The cock sacrificed for Sapahlaisa must be a red cock, as 
the souls of wild animals are supposed to prefer red cocks, 
because they are more beautiful than others. The day of 
the sacrifice the whole village is pana, and no work of any 
sort not even spinning and weaving may be done. The 
next day is aoh, and again no work is done, and the women 
must neither spin nor weave, as the animals' souls fear 
cotton, and if weaving goes on will not dare to enter the 
village. The reason why the souls of animals fear cotton is 
because, all work with cotton being done by women, they 
always connect it with women, whom they fear greatly, as, 
owing to their periods, women are always associated in the 
minds of animals with blood. On this second day any one 
who owns a gun goes out to shoot, and if anything is bagged 
it is considered that the sacrifice has had effect. The 
following day is also aoh for the women, in order to please 
the souls of the animals. 

There are quite definite rules as to which of several people 
who have been pursuing an animal can claim it as his, and 
as to the persons entitled to a share in the meat. When an 
animal has been wounded and is followed up and retrieved 
by a man other than the shooter, the eldest of the persons 
who followed and retrieved it is entitled to a hind leg, apart 
from the dues payable to village officials. According to 
custom, a man who shoots an animal is expected to give his 
kei macha or principal friend the neck, and his kei hawti or 
second friend three ribs, while his maternal uncle (pupa) is 
given the chest. This gift to the pupa is known as sapalong. 
A man's wife's sister is given the loins and meat round the 
tail, and her husband must return the gift whenever he shoots 
a wild animal. This meat due payable to a sister-in-law is 
called narongsakeu. When there are three sisters it is the 
husbands of the elder and middle sisters who pay each other 


narongsakeu ; the youngest sister generally arranges with 
one of her female cousins that their respective husbands 
shall exchange narongsakeu. A man's sister is supposed to 
receive a hind leg, and it is usual to give some meat occasion- 
ally to any woman whose marriage price or puma is payable to 
the shooter. The custom of giving meat to these women is 
called ngazuasaphei. When a man has numerous relations 
it is impossible for him to give each of them a share of every 
animal he shoots, so he has to satisfy their claims in turn. 
The person who receives a share of meat must reciprocate 
the gift with a pot of sahma or a fowl. If a man who shoots 
much game never gives a share to the women entitled to 
it, they can claim hmiatla or atonement price from him. 

Lakhers hunt practically any bird or beast, and it is only 
by having killed a certain number of the larger beasts and 
by performing the la sacrifice over them that a man can get 
to Peira, the Lakher Paradise, after death. 

It is ana, however, to shoot the cock bird of any of the 
four kinds of hornbill found in the hills during the nesting 
season, which lasts from March to July. While the hen 
hornbill hatches out her eggs and brings up her young inside 
a hollow tree, she never moves out until her nestlings can 
fly, when the cock removes the clay which encloses her in 
the nest and lets her out. Meanwhile she is entirely de- 
pendent on the cock for all her food. For this reason 
Lakhers believe that if they shoot the cock Khazangpa will 
be angry and will punish them, as the hen and her young will 
inevitably die ; hence it is ana to kill a cock hornbill at this 
season. Lakhers, however, have no scruple whatever about 
killing and eating a hen and her young. As soon as a man 
has marked down a hornbilFs nest, he reserves it for himself 
by driving a bamboo or wooden stake into the trunk of the 
tree. This is called pahaw. When the young have grown 
large enough to be worth eating, the finder of the nest robs 
it and kills and eats the hen and her young. When any one 
robs a hornbuTs nest, he must place a short piece of bamboo 
or stick in the nest before he leaves it. This is called ma- 
songpa. The belief is that when the cock comes home and 
finds his family gone, he picks up the piece of stick in his 


beak, carries it off to the King of the Hornbills, and tells 
him that his family have been killed with this stick. The 
King of the Hornbills, seeing that the hen and her brood 
have not died because the cock had neglected to feed them, 
gives the widower another wife. Next year the cock brings 
his new wife to make a nest in the same hollow tree, and 
thus affords another feed to the man who has reserved the 
nest. Once a man has reserved a nest it is his for ever, and 
he believes that so long as he puts a piece of stick in the nest 
after robbing it, he can take the nest every year with im- 
punity, as the hornbill will always find another mate. 

The Mihlong clan, which claims descent from the Great 
Indian Hornbill, may not kill hornbills at any time. The 
Hnaihlcu clan may not kill tigers, and the Boiighia clan may 
not kill pythons. 

If any one shoots an animal with a borrowed gun he has 
to give the owner of the gun a hind leg of the animal shot. 
When a man borrows another's gun, a definite agreement is 
made either that he shall incur no liabilities if the gun 
bursts, or that if the gun bursts he will pay the owner its 
value. If it has been agreed that the borrower shall not be 
held responsible if the gun bursts and a burst actually occurs, 
the owner of the gun can claim no compensation, but the 
borrower must give him a hind leg and the loins of the animal 
shot. When two or three people are out shooting together 
the man who draws first blood is entitled to the animal. If two 
men fire at an animal simultaneously and kill it, the animal 
belongs to the elder of the two men who fired. If both fire 
and one misses, the bullet is examined to decide who killed 
the animal. If two or three people are out shooting together, 
the eldest man takes the first shot ; if he misses and they 
follow the game up and get another shot, any one can take the 
first shot unless the eldest verbally insists on his right, when 
it must be conceded. When an elephant is killed, it is the 
property of the man who drew first blood. This man takes 
one tusk for himself, while the other tusk is the joint property 
of the rest of the people participating in the hunt. 

When a hunter has killed any of the larger animals, on 
his return home he performs a sacrifice called Salupakia, the 


object of which is to give him power in the next world over 
the spirit of the animal he has killed, to please the dead 
animal's soul, and so also to help him kill many more 
animals in future. Either a fowl or a pig may be sacrificed. 
If a fowl is used, the sacrifice is performed immediately the 
hunter returns home ; if a pig, the sacrifice is postponed till 
next morning. When a fowl is killed, the women may not 
eat any of it, but if the sacrifice is a pig, women may eat 
any part of it except the head, which may be eaten only 
by men. 

The sacrifice is performed inside the house near a sdhma 
pot, close to which the head of the wild animal for which 
the sacrifice is being performed is placed. Before performing 
the sacrifice the hunter sucks a little sahma out of each 
sahma pot and spits it out into a gourd ; he rubs flour all 
over the trophy, takes into his mouth again the sahma he 
has spat into the gourd, and blows it over the trophy six 
times. The hunter next intones a hunting song (hladeu), 
and kills the fowl or pig, as the case may be. If a fowl is 
sacrificed, its tongue is pulled out and placed on the trophy, 
and some feathers are placed in the trophy's nostrils. If a 
pig, the trophy is anointed with the blood, and after the pig 
has been cooked and eaten its head is placed on the trophy. 
The trophy is then hung up in the verandah, and all the old 
trophies already hanging up there are anointed with flour 
and beer, in order to make them look beautiful and as though 
they had been freshly shot. This attention is thought to be 
pleasing to the souls of the dead animals, who will praise the 
sacrificer to living animals and so induce them to approach 
him next time he goes out hunting. For the day and night 
of the sacrifice the sacrificer and his family are pana, and 
the women of the house may not weave. That night it is 
ana for the sacrificer to sleep with his wife or any other 
woman ; he must sleep on the place where the sacrifice was 
made. The Lakhers believe that on the night of this 
sacrifice the spirit of the animal shot comes and watches 
the man who has killed it, and if it saw him sleeping with 
his wife, would say, " Ah, this man prefers women to me," 
and would go and inform all the other animals that the 


man who had shot him was unworthy to be allowed to shoot 
any more animals, as he was fonder of women than of the 
chase. A man who broke the prohibition on sexual inter- 
course on Salupakia night would therefore be unable to kill 
any more animals. The next morning the sacrificer takes 
his gun and goes outside the village and shoots a bird ; if 
he cannot shook a bird he must in any case fire his gun off. 
Having done this, he returns to the village, the pana ends, 
and it is permissible for him to have intercourse with women 
again. If a bird is shot it means that the sacrifice has taken 
effect and that the sacrificer will soon shoot more game. 

If a man has wounded an animal and returned home 
without bagging it and intends to follow it up next day, he 
must sleep alone that night. It is ana for a man in these 
circumstances to sleep either with his wife or with any 
other woman, as it is believed that if he did so the wounded 
animal would escape him. Hunters must remain chaste in 
these circumstances. 

Lakhers have a superstitious fear of tigers, as tigers are 
believed to have a saw ; so when a tiger has been shot a 
special ceremony called Chakei la has to be performed. 
This ceremony is similar in some respects to that performed 
over the head of an enemy slain in war. If any one shoots 
a tiger and leaves it in the jungle, no sacrifice is necessary, 
but if he brings the head into the village he must perform 
the la ceremony, because a dead tiger is saw that is to 
say, has the capacity of causing sickness and harm to any 
one touching it, and the la ceremony both makes the tiger's 
saw innocuous and enables the hunter to retain the tiger for 
his own use in the next world. Most Lakhers dislike tigers, 
because they fear the saw and are not at all keen on shooting 
them, and if a man who has shot a tiger says he is going to 
perform the la ceremony, and asks his friends to come and 
help him skin the carcase, and then fails to perform the 
ceremony, he must give each of the skinners a dog and a 
fowl to sacrifice, to save themselves from the evil effects of 
the saw. The dog and fowl are killed and then thrown away 
outside the village, and none of their meat is eaten. The 
belief is that the saw is thrown out of the village in the same 


way as the bodies of the dogs and the fowls. Not only the 
skinners, but any one touching the skin of a dead tiger over 
which la has not been performed must offer this sacrifice. 

After the tiger has been skinned, the head is brought up 
and kept outside the village. Two pigs must be killed for 
the la. In the morning a pig is killed outside the village, 
The meat of this pig may be eaten only by men. After this 
pig has been sacrificed, the tiger's head is brought into the 
village and put down in front of the house of the man who 
shot it. A tiger's head, like a man's, is never taken inside 
a house. The second pig is killed near the tiger's head and 
the la ceremony is performed. The man who shot the tiger 
dresses up in woman's clothes, lets down his hair like a 
woman, and smokes a woman's pipe. He carries a spindle 
and thread in his hand, and while winding the thread 
dances round the tiger's head, finally running the spindle 
through the tiger's nostrils. One of the assistants then 
picks up the tiger's head and runs through the village with 
it, pursued by the man who shot it jabbing at the tiger's 
nostrils with the spindle. The head is thrown away outside 
the village. 1 Tigers' heads are never hung up in the 
verandah like other trophies. In Chapi and Savang tigers' 
heads are hung outside the village in the same way as 
human heads, and the head of the animal sacrificed as la 
is hung up near by. During the ceremony it is ana to 

The origin of this ceremony is that once upon a time a 
woman went to the jhums, and a tiger came to eat her. 
The tiger knocked her down, but as he did so the spindle 
she was carrying entered his nostrils and killed him, and so 
the woman escaped. Ever since then it has been the custom 
to wear woman's clothes when performing the la ceremony 
for a tiger. During the la the dead tiger's brother is said 
to watch the proceedings from a high hill, and when he sees 
a woman dancing round the tiger he does not get angry, as 

1 Among the Lusheis, too, the performer dresses up as a woman, but the 
details of the ceremony are somewhat different. Lusheis have no fear of 
tigers, and hang their heads up in the verandah like any other trophy. Cf. 
Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 80. The Haka Chins have a similar 
ceremony. Cf. W. R. Head, Haka Chin Customs, p. 36. N. E. P. 


he thinks that it is only a woman who killed his brother, 
and that if the latter was stupid enough to get killed by a 
woman he had only himself to blame. So, as it is not worth 
while punishing a woman, he goes away without taking any 


In the preceding pages frequent use has been made of the 
term saw. 1 This term requires some explanation. A saw 
is the power of causing sickness or ill luck, and attaches to 
certain animals and also to men in certain circumstances. 
Tigers and leopards have a saw, and the la ceremony per- 
formed over a dead tiger or leopard is intended mainly to 
render the saw harmless. Men or women killed in war are 
saiv, as also is any one dying an unnatural death or whose 
death is due to certain loathsome diseases. Captives taken 
in war, so long as they remain tied up, have a saw ; if they 
remain quietly in their captor's house they have no saw, but 
if they escape soon after capture, on reaching home they are 
regarded by their relatives and friends as having a saw. 
Nowadays prisoners in jail and persons handcuffed or tied 
up while under arrest have a saw. It is ana to give food or 
nicotine water to any persons in these circumstances. I 
remember tying up two people, Leima of Savang and Thlulai 
of Chehlu, and keeping them in the quarter guard at Savang 
for some misbehaviour. Even this short period of confine- 
ment caused each of them to become saw, and each had to 
sacrifice a pig before he was readmitted into society. About 
ten years ago, before Chapi had come under British rule, 
Deutha, a Lakher interpreter, had to arrest Rachi, Chief of 
Chapi. Deutha arrested Rachi, and on the way into Lungleh 
put him up in his house at Saiko. Deutha was very much 
afraid that he would catch Radii's saw, and asked Rachi to 
give him a fowl and a dog to sacrifice to avert the danger. 
Rachi refused to do so, as he said he was not in Deutha's 

1 Saw is perhaps identical with the Chang Naga Sou, the word used for 
the separable and, ultimately, perishable ghost which attaches to men and 
at any rate some animals. It is particularly malignant and revengeful. It 
seems to be identical with the soul that leaves the body in sleep, as the 
Chang word for yawning is sou saita~ihe ghost (soul) is dancing (i.e. in 
the mouth ?). J. H. H. 


house of his own free will, so Deutha must run the risk. 
Very shortly after, Deutha's wife lost the sight of one of her 
eyes, which Deutha ascribes to Rachi's saw. It would have 
been useless for Deutha to sacrifice a dog and fowl of his 
own the animals to be sacrificed must be given by the 
person from whom the saw emanates. Rachi himself on 
returning to Chapi had to perform the Thlahawh sacrifice, 
which is described later, to rid himself of the saw that he 
acquired by being arrested and taken into Lungleh. Even 
a very short period of confinement is a much more serious 
matter to a Lakher than would be imagined by any one not 
knowing their customs. The idea seems to be that any one 
touching a person who has died an unnatural death, or 
having intercourse with a person who is suffering from certain 
special misfortunes, is liable to die in the same way, or, in 
the second case, to be afflicted with blindness or lameness 
unless the requisite taboos are observed. If a man who has 
been taken captive in war manages to escape from his captors 
and return home, he is regarded as having a saw, and, as 
a saw, is infectious ; until certain sacrifices are performed no 
one likes to associate with him. Persons who become 
infected with a saw from a runaway slave or any other person 
afflicted in the same way are liable to suffer from bad eyes 
or to become lame. An escaped captive on reaching his 
home has to get the Thlahawh sacrifice performed by either 
his father or one of his brothers, or, if he has no near rela- 
tions, he must perform the sacrifice himself. A hen or a pig 
is killed at the foot of the main post at the back of the house 
at night. If the sacrifice is a hen, its tongue and some blood 
are placed at the foot of the post with some rice as phavaw. 
The fowl is then cooked, some liver and cooked rice are 
added to the phavaw, and the rest of the fowl is eaten by 
the runaway, the sacrificer, and their family. The phavaw 
are intended for the soul of the escaped captive, to induce 
it to stay at home and cease from wandering. In this 
sacrifice a hen is the victim, as hens generally remain in or 
near the house, while cocks wander all over the place, and 
it is hoped that the soul of the man who has escaped from 
captivity will remain at home like a hen. 


If the victim is a pig, it is also killed at night, and in the 
same place. Three pots of beer are prepared, and guests are 
invited to share in the feast. Some flour is placed on the 
floor at the foot of the main post, and the pig's tongue and 
the tips of its ears are placed on the flour as phavaw. A hen 
is then killed in the same place, and its tongue is placed with 
the other phavaw. The pig and the hen are cooked separately, 
and the pig's liver, the hen's liver, rice, and salt are added to 
the phavaw. The hen is eaten only by the escaped captive, 
the sacrificer, and their family ; the pig is divided up among 
the guests. All the meat must be finished that night, any- 
thing left over being thrown into the street to be devoured 
by pigs and dogs. It is believed that the saw will not leave 
until all the meat has been eaten. The escaped captive, the 
sacrificer, and his family must observe an aoh next day, and 
remain inside their house. After this the man who escaped 
from captivity is free from his saw and is readmitted into 
society. If on his way home the runaway was given food 
by a relation in another village, he must send this man a 
dog and a fowl to sacrifice, to ensure that he is not infected 
with the saw. The same sacrifice must be performed on 
behalf of any one released from jail or freed from arrest. 

If a man is very lucky at hunting and manages to shoot 
many wild animals, he is known as a lasisapa. His good 
luck is believed to be due to the fact that he is a favourite 
of the Lasi, 1 the spirit that looks after wild animals. The 
Lakhers, however, unlike the Lusheis, perform no sacrifices 
to the Lasi. 2 A lasisapa is said to see in his dreams the 
places where wild animals will be found the next day, and 
consequently always finds game. It is believed that shortly 
before a lasisapa dies he sees his own Lasi, generally riding 
on a huge animal. Vakia, late Chief of Tisi, who is said 

1 The Kussians and Lapps believe in a spirit like the lasi who rules over 
all wild animals and on whose good- will depends success in the chase. The 
Kussian name of this spirit is leschiy. Is the similarity between the words 
leschiy and lasi a mere coincidence, or are the words connected ? Vide 
Frazer, The Golden Bough, Part I, Vol. II, pp. 124, 125. N. E. P. 

2 For the Lushei lashi cf. Shakespear, The Lushei Kulci Clans, p. 68 ; 
Parry, Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, p. 14. The lashi among the Aimol 
and the Vaiphei is a more powerful spirit, and almost the equal of Pathian. 
Among the Thado the lashi is known as pheizam. Cf. Shakespear, op cit., 
pp. 158 and 201. N. E. P. 





to have shot more than 700 animals, shortly before his 
death went out hunting, and came on to an enormous wild 
boar. He aimed his gun at the boar, but as he did so he 
saw a boy with long hair sitting on the boar's neck. He 
therefore laid his gun down, and the boy disappeared ; so 
he again prepared to fire, but as soon as he did so the 
boy reappeared on the boar's neck. On this Vakia realised 
that it was his Lasi, and he refrained from firing and went 
home. He told his friends what had happened, and said 
that he was sure he would never shoot any more animals 
and would soon die, which after a short interval he actually 

Another lasisapa who saw a similar apparition shortly 
before he died was Sangkham, late Chief of Vombuk. 

Traps, etc. 

In addition to hunting with the gun, the Lakhers have 
numerous ingenious ways of snaring and trapping birds and 
animals. There are two kinds of traps for catching monkeys ; 
both are called azeubatla. The first consists of two forked 
uprights, across which a bamboo is placed, with a bunch of 



bananas or some maize tied in the middle. The bamboo 
cross-piece is sawn half through at the place where the bait 
is attached. The monkey swarms up one of the uprights and 
runs along the cross-piece to seize the bait. When he reaches 




the middle the cross-piece breaks and the monkey is precipi- 
tated on to bamboo stakes which have been planted below. 
The other kind of azeubatla is made out of a single bamboo 
planted slantwise with a bait dangling from its end. The 
bamboo is sawn half through in the middle, the monkey runs 
up it to take the bait, and when he reaches the top the 
bamboo breaks under his weight and he falls on to the 
bamboo spikes below. 1 


To catch bears and tigers a trap called veutla is used. 
A forked rest consisting of two poles tied together at 
the top is erected, and over the fork a log is placed, from 
which two beams are suspended, one end of each beam 
resting on the ground, while the other ends are slung by 
ropes made of ari cane (Calamus erectus, Roxb.) from the 


further end of the log balanced on the fork. Across these 
two beams a platform is laid and the ground below is 
thickly sown with sharp bamboo stakes (sen). The bait is 
laid on the platform. A rope attached to the end of the log 
balanced on the fork is tied round a piece of stick or bamboo, 

1 Cf. Mills, The Ltota Nagas, p. 68. J. H. H. 


which is slipped below the two beams so as just to hold the 
trap in position, and the end of this same piece of rope is 
tied round the bait. The animal mounts the platform to 
devour the bait and in seizing it pulls out the peg which 
holds the trap in position. The log holding up the beams 
flies upwards, the platform collapses and the animal is 
deposited on to the stakes below. 

Another trap used for tigers is called meithei kapu. 
A gun is set up on bamboo rests and pointed along a path 
habitually used by a tiger. A fine cord made out of the 
hair-like fibres which grow on the stem of the sasai palm 



(Caryota urens, Linn.) is attached to a post planted on the 
opposite side of the path. The cord is then run across the 
path so that any animal coming along the path must strike 
it. The other end of the cord is taken round the back of the 
frame and tied to the two ends of a small piece of stick which 
is placed against the trigger. As soon as an animal knocks 
against the cord, the stick presses against the trigger and 
explodes the gun. 

A favourite trap used for the larger kinds of game is the 
kapu. A small fence is erected along the spur of a hill or 
anywhere in the jungle where animals are frequently on 
the move. Passages are left at intervals in the fence, and 
at each of these a spear is placed horizontally along the 
fence at a height sufficient to pierce at a vital spot any 
animal that passes. This spear is held back behind the 
fence by a strong bamboo spring, held in position by a peg 
in a cane ring, and across the gap in the fence a creeper called 




pairi (Piper nigrum, Linn.) is run, so that if an animal 
trips over it the spring is released and forces the spear 
forward so as to pierce the animal which is trying to pass 



through the gap. A smaller trap of exactly the same sort is 
used for porcupine. 



The trap generally used for catching barking deer is 
called sari. A low fence is made through the jungle to 
guide the deer along the desired path, and gaps are left for 
them to pass through. In each gap a hole about 1 feet 
deep is made in the ground and covered over with 
bamboo sticks, on the top of which a noose made of palm 
fibre is placed and attached to a creeper called zongveupa, 
which is tied on to a springy sapling. This trap is covered 
with soil and leaves, and a piece of wood is placed along each 
side of the hole to ensure that the animal will place its foot 
in the desired spot. No animal will ever step on a piece of 


wood, and if there are two pieces of wood on the path, will 
always place its foot between them. The cane rope is then 
tightened sufficiently to bend the sapling and is held down 
by a bamboo peg, which is kept in place by the bamboo 
sticks covering the hole. The barking deer comes along 


and steps on the bamboo sticks covering the hole. These 
collapse and release the bamboo peg which is holding down 
the cane rope. The sapling flies backwards, and the noose 
is tight round the barker's leg. 

Another trap formerly used for animals is the seuphong, 
but as it is very dangerous to men, its use has been practically 
abandoned. A pit about 6 feet deep was dug on a track used 
by wild animals, sharp stakes were planted at the bottom of 
it, the mouth of the pit was covered in with rotten bamboo 
leaves and dust, and any animal that came along fell through 
and was impaled on the stakes. This trap was also used as 
defence against an enemy when two villages were at war. 

There are several kinds of rat-traps. The most commonly 
used is the makheu. A low bamboo fence which may 
stretch as far as a mile is put up in the jungle. At intervals 
in this gaps are left for the rats to run through. Over each 
gap a log of wood is erected and is held in position by a 
smaller log above it, one end of which rests on a forked pole 
and is attached to the log below by a strand of zong- 
veupa, while from the other end a similar rope runs down 



and is attached to a small piece of stick, which is held in 
place by a bar running along one side of the trap and by the 
pressure of a stick laid across the gap and held in place by 
other sticks beneath which the bait is placed. The rats 


enter the gap to get through and push aside the sticks holding 
the rope which keeps the trap in equilibrium. The top log 
flies up, and the heavy log below falls and crushes the rats. 
Porcupines, monkeys and birds also get caught in this trap. 
Another kind of rat-trap is called chalong. A large 
stone is placed between three small bamboo posts and 
kept in an upright position by a bamboo stick, the centre 


of which is supported on a bamboo upright ; one end of 
this stick holds up the stone, while the other pushes against 
another bamboo upright. The bait, generally a maize cob 
tied on to the end of a bamboo stick, is put under the stone. 




The bamboo holding the bait runs below and parallel to the 
stick which holds the stone in place. A small piece of 
bamboo with a little fork on it is placed so that one end rests 
on the stick which holds the bait, and the stick holding up 
the stone rests on the fork. A string made out of the bark 
of the pazo tree is tied to the small piece of forked bamboo 
and is run under the stick holding the bait so as to support 
it, and then tied on to the centre upright. When the rat 
nibbles at the bait the stick on which the bait is fixed is 
moved to one side ; this jerks away the small piece of 
forked bamboo from under the stick which is holding up 
the stone, this stick falls and releases the stone, which falls 
on the rat and crushes it. This trap involves the most 
careful adjustment and balancing of the sticks used. 

A trap called a leika is also used for rats and squirrels. 
A small bamboo fence is erected in the jungle, and gaps 


are left in it, which are fitted with loop snares. These 
are tied on to whippy sticks which are bent over and 
held in place by the pressure of a small peg, whose ends rest 
one against the top of the hoop and the other against a 
cross stick, which rests against the sides of the arch of the 
hoop. This cross stick is tied to another small stick laid on 
the ground in the gap, and itself held in place by another 
stick laid over it and held lightly by a peg in the ground. 
The rat running through moves the sticks, the peg resting 
against the hoop is released, the bent stick flies .back and 
the noose is pulled round the rat. 




Yet another rat-trap is the viakhang. A bent sapling, 
to which a rope, made of the bark of the pazo tree, 
with a noose at the end is attached, is planted in the rat's 
run. Two pieces of split bamboo are tied to the sapling 
and to each other so as to form a triangle with the base of 
the sapling. Within this triangle 
the noose is set. To keep the 
sapling bent, a small peg of 
bamboo is attached to the end 
of the rope carrying the noose 
and held in place by two pieces 
of bamboo, which are them- 
selves kept in position by press- 
ing against the sides of the 
triangle formed by the base of 
the sapling and the bamboo 
sticks tied to it. When a rat 
tries to push through the gap 
formed by the noose he pushes 
the pieces of bamboo which 
secure the peg at the end of 
the rope out of position, thereby 
releasing the cane rope which holds the sapling in its bent 
position. The sapling flies back and as it does so the noose 
is tightened round the rat, which is caught and suspended in 
mid air. 

Numerous snares are used for catching birds. The 
khangpala is a trap placed in the branches of a fruiting tree 
to which birds are resorting and is set so that the feet of a 
bird alighting to eat the fruit become entangled in a noose 
which tightens round them. As soon as a bird is caught 
it is removed and the trap is reset. I have seen five or six 
birds caught in a very short time. 

The piva is a trap used for catching pheasants and 
partridges on the ground. A sapling is planted firmly in 
the ground, and a cane string with a noose at the end is 
tied to the top of the sapling. Below the tip of the sapling 
four bamboo pegs are placed in the ground just far enough 
apart to allow of their being encircled by the noose. The 





peg immediately below the cane string has a small pro- 
jection on it which supports a large piece of split bamboo 

("A" in the Fig.), which 
is bent in the middle and 
has both ends touching 
the ground. The slip 
knot for the noose is 
made just under the 
centre of this bent 
bamboo, and is secured 
by a small piece of bent 
cane("B " in the Fig.), 
in which is placed a 
red seed. When the 
pheasant pecks at the 
seed the bent-cane 
seed receptacle falls 
to the ground, the 
slip knot holding down 
the sapling is released, 
the sapling flies back 
and the noose is 
tightened round the 
neck of the bird. The 
red seed used is either 
the seed of a shrub 
** TRAP FOR PHEASANTS PIVA called pivo, OT of a tree 

called ratleu. 

The khangkha is used for catching pheasants and 
partridges. A small bamboo fence is run for some distance 
through a part of the jungle frequented by pheasants and 
partridges. Gaps are left at intervals in this fence, and 
within these gaps the nooses are placed. Each gap is made 
by a hoop of split bamboo. At each gap is a bent sapling 
having a pazo bark string with a noose tied to its tip. The 
noose hangs round the gap and is kept in place within the 
hoop by a small cross-piece of stick, which is tied on to the 
noose string and kept in position by pressing against the 
hoop. As the pheasant enters the gap it pushes this cross- 




piece out of position, thereby releasing the sapling, which 
flies up and tightens the noose round the bird's neck. 


A bird-trap which operates on a different principle is the 
apheu. This consists of a platform about 1 foot square, 
made of bamboo matting and wood, which is raised up 
so as to fall upon the birds and crush them. A forked 
post is planted in the ground, and a stick is placed in the 
fork with one end projecting a short way over the fork. 
This end is tied with cane to the stick projecting from the 
end of the mat platform. From the other end of the top 


stick a bark rope is looped round the stick attached to the 
mat platform, and from this loop another length of rope, at 
the end of which a stick is tied, is let down to within a few 
inches of the soil ; on this pieces of split bamboo are arranged 
in the shape of a wheel, one end of each split bamboo resting 


on the stick attached to the cane rope and the other end 
resting on the ground, the weight of the split bamboos keeping 
the stick at the end of the cane rope in position. Grain is 
scattered as bait under the spokes of split bamboo. The 
birds alight on the bamboo spokes to pick up the grain and 
in doing so displace them, thereby upsetting the balance of 
the trap. The stick tied to the end of the cane rope is 
released, the cross stick running over the forked post flies 
upwards, and the mat platform, which is weighted with 
stones, falls on to the birds and crushes them. 

Small birds called rita l which eat the paddy are often 
trapped in granaries. All cracks and openings in the granary 
are carefully stopped, and a door is loft open to allow the 
birds to enter. The owner of the granary lies hid close by, 
and watches till a large number of birds have entered, when 
he rushes into the granary, closes the door and slays the little 
birds with a stick. Another method is to close the opening 
by which the birds entered with a net called sodi, and then 
to frighten the birds into the net by beating on the walls of 
the granary till they are all caught. 

In addition to these traps, the Lakhers make use of bird- 
lime, which is made out of the juice of the ahmeu (Ficus 
elastica) and is called vawdia. The tree is tapped by making 
cuts on the trunk with a dao ; the juice is caught in a section 
of bamboo placed in an earthenware pot and boiled until it 
has become extremely glutinous, when it is ready for use. 
Bird-lime is sometimes used for catching birds in trees, but 
it is more commonly used to snare birds when they come down 
to drink. The place where the birds usually come to drink 
is enclosed with a fence of foliage or stones, and a passage 
is left in this fence, across which a thin bamboo perch is 
placed for the birds to alight on. The perch is smeared with 
lime. Birds coming to drink alight on the perch, their 
feathers adhere to the lime and they are pounced on and 
caught by the owner of the trap, who is lying in wait for them. 

Traps are always set by men. It is ana for a woman to 
help a man set traps. If this is done no animal will be 
caught. It is ana for a man to sleep with his wife or any 

1 Hodgson's Munia (Uroloncha, striata acuticauda). N. E. P. 


other woman on the night he has set traps. If he does so 
the animals and the birds will know about it and refuse to 
be caught. When a man dies, all the traps he has used are 
destroyed, as it is unlucky to use a dead man's traps, and 
no game would be caught in them, as the soul of the dead 
man prevents the animals from entering the traps. 


The Lakher is very partial to fish, and as the Kolodyne 
and several of its tributaries flow through his country, he 
has plenty of opportunities of catching them. The most 
usual way of catching fish is with the casting net in shallow 
water, and large numbers of small fish are caught by this 

Casting nets called sokaw are made in all the villages, there 
generally being two or three men in each village who are 
skilled net-makers. Women do not make nets, though it is 
not ana for them to do so. To start with, thick thread has 
to be made. Four long threads of ordinary cotton are 
wound into one ball and then spun right-handedly into one 
thread on a spindle ; another ball of four threads is treated 
in the same way ; these two threads are then wound into 
one ball and spun left-handedly into one thread on the 
spindle. This produces a very strong thread, which is 
wound on to a thread-holder, whence the skein of thread 
is placed in hot water and dried on a bamboo frame, a heavy 
stick being run between the skeins to weight them down and 
remove all kinks from the thread. 

The twine for making fishing-nets, after being doubly 
spun, is placed in the netting spool (sochiphang) 1 , which is of 
exactly the same shape as the spool for netting a hammock. 
The netter sits on the ground. To begin with, the end of the 
twine is firmly held in the left hand, about 4 inches or more 
according to the size of the net required from the big toe, 
and with the right hand the twine is wound eight times 
over the big toe, which is used to hold it. It is then removed, 
doubled over in the middle and tied twice exactly over the 
middle, so as to form sixteen loops. The loops are then held 
i CJ. Fig. 11, p. 52. N. E. P. 


at the place where they are tied, so that they hang downwards 
all round, and the top is tied round as one would tie a tassel. 
The twine on the netting spool is then tied to one loop in a 
reef knot, and the netting begins. A flat bamboo called 
sosina (Fig. 9, p. 52), about 2 inches wide, is held just below 
the loop, and the twine is placed across and under and up over 
the loop again. Here the netting spool is passed through the 
loop, which is knotted on the edge of the sosina. This is 
continued until all the sixteen loops are knotted. The sosina 
is then removed and the loops hang free. The sosina is 
placed below them again, and the netting proceeds in the 
same way. As the nets are perfectly round, it is necessary 
to increase the loops, so an extra loop is inserted at every 
third loop. This is achieved by passing the sosina through 
the loop above, just over the knot. It is then brought down 
again and placed across the flat bamboo and knotted as 
before. This increasing is done at every third loop on each 
line until the net reaches the desired size. Nowadays the 
casting-nets are weighted with lead. Formerly, when lead 
was not available, they were weighted with baked clay. 
Red clay thrown up by termites was pounded up with water, 
and when it was thoroughly sticky was cut in lengths of 
2 inches, and 1 inch in diameter. Each of these lengths was 
pierced with a small bamboo spike and dried in the sun for 
three days, and then placed in the fire until the clay was 
deep red in colour. As soon as these clay weights had 
cooled they were threaded on a long string, which was tied 
all round the edge of the net. Clay weights are not satis- 
factory, as they are too light, and as soon as lead and iron 
became easily available their use was abandoned. 

For catching small fish a bamboo trap called chhao is 
used. This trap consists of an open-work basket with a 
check plait (apipa) 3 feet deep and 1 \ feet in diameter. The 
top of the basket is closed half-way across, and the gap left 
is filled in with a funnel made of bamboo slats which are 
kept wide enough apart by the flow of the water to allow 
small fish to enter. Once inside, they cannot escape. The 
funnel is detachable, and is removed to allow the fish to be 
taken out. These traps are used in small rivers when the 


fry are swarming. As soon as the fry start going up the 
little streams, the traps are set in the middle, and small 
leafy branches are placed on each side of them. When 
the fry find they cannot get further up the small stream 
they turn to come back to the main river, and many are 
caught. A chh'to is shown in Fig. 1, p. 119. 

To get big fish more complicated methods are resorted 
to, all the villagers joining in and getting their share of 
the booty. The most popular method, as it produces a 
fairly constant supply of big fish at the end of the rains, is 
the chha. This weir is built as follows : All the able-bodied 
men of the village go down to the river, and as they have 
to spend five or six nights at the work, the first thing done 
is to build a hut to sleep in, called chhabeurei. Women never 
go down to the river on this occasion, and it is ana for them 
to go into the chJmbeurei. The reason for this is that the 
spirit of the river dislikes women because of their menstrual 
flow, and if a woman entered the chhabeurei it would prevent 
the fish from entering the traps. A woman entering a 
chhabeurei is fined a fowl, which is sacrificed to the spirit of 
the river to appease him. Last year the wife of a man called 
Lianruma entered the chhabeurei built by the men of Saiko 
and was fined a fowl. The widows of the village, as no man 
from their houses goes to help in the work, each subscribe 
an earthen cooking-pot for the fishermen to cook their food 
in, and by this gift obtain the right to share in the catch. 
The next job is the collection of bamboos and timber to build 
the weir. When sufficient materials have been obtained, four 
large bamboo open-work baskets, called pakhu, are made and 
placed in position across the river and filled with stones ; in 
these stones are planted forked branches called chliabi, to 
hold up a long wooden beam called chhatla, which runs the 
whole way across the river. If one tree is not long enough, 
another is joined on to it to complete the chhatla. Next, 
between each of the baskets filled with stones, two stout poles 
called chhasongkhaipa are planted in the river-bed, with 
their feet a little downstream of the chhatla, Their heads 
pass over the chhatla and rest on a forked pole called chhareu, 
which is planted in the river-bed just above the chhatla at 




the foot of a large stone, which will prevent the post being 
washed away. The chhatla, chhasongkhaipa, and chhareu 
are then all lashed together with strands of zongveupa. 
Next two lines of rasang bamboos (Bambusa Tulda, Roxb.) 
are tied below water on to the chhasongkhaipa and taken 
right across the river. Over and at right angles to these 
bamboos, ramaw bamboos (Melocanna bambusoides) 10 feet 
in length are tied, half their length being under water and 
the other half standing up over the chhatla. A space of a 
span is left between each upright bamboo. Over these 
bamboos again a lattice wall called saira, made out of split 

ramaw bamboos, is tied level with the chhatla, the space 
between the bottom of the lattice wall and the bed of the 
river being filled in with bundles of bamboo leaves to pre- 
vent any fish passing through. When the weir is finished, 
the actual traps, called chhabeu, are constructed, two or 
three being made, according to the size of the weir. For 
the floor of each trap twenty to twenty-five long bamboos are 
used. The ends of these are tied to the lower of the two 
lines of bamboos which go the whole width of the river, and 
the bamboos are lashed together and supported at short 
intervals on posts planted in the river-bed. The walls of 


the traps, also made of whole bamboos, are built up from 
the floor, and the traps are closed in with a roof. The traps 
are usually 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 15 to 20 feet long. 
A hole is made in the roof to admit of a man entering to 
catch the fish, and closed with a door. An opening is left 
in the latticed vrall of the weir at the mouth of the chhabeu 
to allow the fish to enter, and a stone is placed at the entrance 
so as to allow the fish to slide easily over it into the trap. 
Above this doorway a flat stone or a shelter of bamboo 
matting is fixed so as to darken the entrance to the trap 
and make it more attractive to the fish. This shelter is 
called chhalakhu, and is held up by two poles, one end of 
which is pushed through the lattice, the other end being 
tied on to a forked post. On the lower side of the weir just 
below the chhatla a bamboo bridge called hleideu is carried 
right across the river, to enable men to reach the traps, 
which are visited at intervals and the fish removed. 

The right to erect these fish weirs is a not infrequent cause 
of dispute among the villages, when a good place for erecting 
a weir exists on a river forming a boundary between two 
chiefs. Unless one of the parties can prove that they have 
built a weir at the place in dispute for many years past 
and that their rights have never been questioned before, the 
only way to end the trouble is to order that each village shall 
exercise the right in alternate years. 

Another communal method of fishing which is used when 
a river has two branches divided by an island is called 
parasa. At the lower end of the island, on the smaller 
branch of the river, a barrier of stones, the gaps between 
which are filled in with leaves, is erected, so as to let the 
water flow through freely while stopping any fish from pro- 
ceeding downstream. At the top end of the island on the 
same branch of the river a regular dam is built up. Stones 
are then piled up right across the river. On the top of these 
cloths are laid and covered with soil, so as to make the dam 
quite water-tight, and thus divert all the water into the 
other channel. As soon as this second dam is completed, 
the river-bed between the upper and lower dam is left dry, 
and the fish, having been unable to pass through the lower 


lattice-work barrier, are left stranded, and are easily caught 
and despatched. Having collected the fish, the upper dam 
is breached and the water allowed to flow freely again for a 
week or two, after which the process is repeated. 

Some of the villages, among them Chapi, Ngiaphia, and 
Khihlong, use a large net about 30 yards long by 2 yards in 
width. All the villagers contribute cotton for making the 
net, and the work is entrusted to the most skilful net-maker 
in the village, who receives a present of paddy from the rest 
of the villagers for his trouble. This net is called sopi. It is 
intended for catching the larger fish, and can only be used 
in the hot weather, when the rivers are at their lowest. 
Two nets are required. One is fixed on bamboos at the end 
of the shallow water above a rapid, the other below the 
rapid, before the water deepens into the pool. The bottom 
of the net is kept down on the river-bed with stones. If 
the nets are not long enough to stretch right across the 
river a palisade of bamboos and leaves is erected between 
the end of each net and the bank. When the nets are in 
position, a number of men are posted behind each net to 
catch any fish trying to pass through. The rest of the men 
stand in the rapid between the nets and drive the fish towards 
the nets, where they become entangled and are caught. The 
fish caught are distributed among all the villagers. The 
two men who carry the nets down to the river and back 
are given a large fish each before the shares for the rest of 
the villagers are divided up, as the wet net is a very heavy 
load to carry up the hill back to the village. These net- 
carriers get their ordinary share of the spoil in addition to 
the extra fish given to each for carrying the net. 

Lines are set along the banks of rivers with a hook baited 
with a small fish. The line is attached to a bamboo rod 
planted on the bank. A shorter bamboo with a fork cut 
in the end is fixed in the bank so as to project just above 
and parallel to the water. A small bamboo stick is tied on 
to the line about half-way down and placed under the forked 
bamboo, thereby bending down the bamboo rod. When a 
fish takes the bait it pulls the bamboo stick away from 
between the forked bamboo and is itself pulled half out of 


the water, and is then seized and despatched. This trap is 
called keipachong. 1 

Sometimes a rod and line are fixed over the river without 
any spring attachment, and if a fish is caught, it remains 
swimming about at the end of the line until some one comes 
along to take it off. 

Fish-hooks are not made by the Lakhers, they buy them 
from Arakan and from Lungleh. Before fish-hooks were 
available from these sources the Lakhers made no use of 
lines. Even now they only make use of these fixed rods, 
and do not use a rod and line in European fashion. 

The fishing-lines are all of string made out of the bark of 
the pazo tree (Hibiscus macrophyllus, Roxb.). 

One of the commonest ways of catching fish is by poisoning 
the pools. A number of different kinds of poison are known. 
The most commonly used is a creeper called maza (Acacia 
pennata, Willd.). The stalk is cut into 2-foot lengths. These 
lengths are beaten out on a stone with a stick till the bark 
is loosened and easily separated from the wood. The wood 
is thrown away, and the bark is tied up in bundles, which 
are taken down to the river. The juice is beaten out on 
planks or stones at the edge of the water and allowed to 
float away down the stream, which it turns a brown colour. 
The fish first rush about as though they were drunk, and 
finally die and are picked up. 

Another creeper called rukhaw (Acacia oxyphylla, Craib) 
is also used in exactly the same way as maza. 

Ruclio (Milletia pachycarpa, Benth.) is also a creeper. Its 
roots are used, and not its stalk. The roots are cut in 2-foot 
lengths and carried to the river without removing the bark. 
They are then placed on stones or planks at the water's edge 
and beaten with sticks to press out the juice. The juice is 
milky in colour, and kills the fish more rapidly than either 
maza or rukhaw. 

Piavi (Gardenia campanulata, Roxb.). The fruit of this 
tree is used. Round spaces along the edge of the water are 
enclosed with bamboo matting in shape like a paddy mortar. 
These mortars are filled with the fruit, which is pounded 

1 Cf. Shaw, Notes on the Thadou Kukis, p. 90, and footnote. J. H. H. 


with pestles like paddy until all the juice has been crushed 
out and carried down the stream. The juice is red in 
colour, and is said to be the most powerful of the fish poisons. 

Viaru (Albizzia procera, Benth). This is also a tree, and 
the bark is used for the poison, the juice of the bark being 
pounded out in the same way as the juice of the piavi fruit. 
The poison is not very powerful, and it is only used in the 
hot weather, when the water is low. 

Pava (Albizzia stipulata, Boiv.). A tree the bark of which 
is used in the same way as the viaru bark. 

Napichatana (Buddleia asiatica, Lour.). A shrub growing 
to 6 or 7 feet in height. The leaves are crushed with pestles 
on stones in the river. The poison is not strong, so it is 
only used in small rivers. 

The Lusheis know sixteen different ways of poisoning 
fish against seven known to the Lakhers. 


The domestic animals kept by the Lakhers are mithun 
(Bos frontalis), cows, pigs, dogs, cats, pigeons and chickens. 
Mithun and cows were formerly scarce, but now that there 
is freer communication with other villages in the Lushai 
Hills they are increasing in numbers. The most highly 
valued animal is the mithun, though for practical purposes 
it seems to Western eyes a singularly useless beast. Among 
the Lakhers, however, it is used as currency, a bull mithun 
being valued at between 60 to 80 rupees and a cow mithun 
at 60 rupees. Mithun are freely used in payment of marriage 
prices. Apart from their value as currency, mithun are of 
no use except for sacrifices or as the piece de resistance at a 
feast. Lakhers never milk their mithun, and though I have 
seen mithun milked in Christian Lushei village, even among 
the Lusheis it is rare to find the mithun used as a milch 

Mithun are independent animals, and are left to look 
after themselves. They spend the day grazing in the 
jungle, wandering quite long distances ; in the evening they 
usually appear at their owner's house for a lick of salt, 


and are then fenced in for the night under their owner's 
house. In the hot weather in April and May they are very 
troubled by flies in the jungle, and then they come into the 
village in the middle of the day and shelter under houses. 
The Lakhers hang wooden bells and clappers round the 
necks of their mithun so as to be able to find them in the 

Mithun bells (seikaleu) are made out of aveu wood, as it 
resounds more loudly than other kinds. A piece of wood 
about 10 inches high and 7 inches broad is hollowed out 
with an adze or a dao more or less in the shape of a Swiss 
cow-bell. Three small holes are made in the bell, and 
through these string is passed to hold up the clappers. 
The bell is tied round the animal's neck with string, and 
sounds as it moves ; the faster the animal moves the louder 
the sound made. Mithun are never given names, though 
definite calls are used when shutting them up at night. In 
Chapi and Savang the natives call out " Leu, leu, leu," in 
Siaha " Chi, chi, chi," in Saiko " Hui, hui, hui." 

Mithun do not like leaving the village where they were born, 
and when sold or given as part of a marriage price to a man 
in another village they often return to their old homes, 
which is apt to give rise to trouble. If when a mithun is 
being taken to another village it refuses to go, it is believed 
that the spirit of the village is preventing it from going. To 
appease the spirit, eggs are placed in the mithun's footprints, 
and it is believed that the spirit seizes these eggs and allows 
the mithun to go. 

Until the British appeared in the hills both buffaloes and 
cows were unknown. There are still no buffaloes in the 
Lakher villages, but nowadays cows are kept for their meat 
and, very rarely, for their milk. Even now few Lakhers 
drink milk, but I am told that this is merely because they 
are ignorant of its use, and not because of any superstitious 
prohibition. The vast majority of the population, however, 
will not touch milk. They regard it as dirty, and have the 
strongest aversion to it. The Lakhers have no particular 
cry for calling cows home, it not being one of their regular 
domestic animals. 


The commonest of all animals is the pig, without which 
the Lakhers could scarcely exist. Not only does the pig 
perform all the duties of a sanitary inspector and his staff, but 
it is in constant demand for sacrifices and feasts. Lakhers 
eat more pork than any other meat, simply because pork 
is easy to get. All boars are castrated at the age of about 
one month, and full-grown boars simply do not exist. 
As a result of this practice the Lakher pig, like the Lushei 
pig, and, as far as I know, the pigs owned by most of the 
Assam Hill tribes, has developed most precocious repro- 
ductive powers. The sows are covered by their own male 
piglets, which are all capable of performing the act by the 
time they are three weeks or a month old. 1 This leads to 
the most appalling inbreeding, with the result that the 
Lakher pig and his Lushei brother are the most degraded- 
looking animals. Strange to relate, however, the race 
continues to exist. When I was first told of the facts 
related above I refused to credit them, but careful inquiry 
in many villages has convinced me of their complete 
accuracy. 2 Owing to this custom of early castration, it 
sometimes happens that a village finds itself without a boar 
to impregnate its sows. When this occurs the villagers 
make an agreement with one of their number that if he 
buys a young boar from another village and lets it run loose 
to cross the village sows they will give him a piglet from the 
litters of each sow crossed by his little boar. An agreement 
of this kind is known as Vopawpathli. A young boar is 
bought, and, having fulfilled its purpose, is castrated, its 
owner in due course receiving a piglet from each litter 
fathered by this boar. I am told that unless little boars 
are castrated at a very early age they never grow sufficiently 
to make them of any use for food, but remain small and 
stunted. Pictures of English boars taken out of The Field 
were always a source of great astonishment. When calling 
their pigs Lakhers cry out " Arrrrr, arrrrr, arrrrr." 

Dogs, too, are numerous ; they assist the pig to perform 

1 Cf. Mills, The Ao Nagas, p. 134. The Ao pig seems to resemble his 
Lakher brother. N. E. P. 

a My own observations confirm Mr. Parry's, vide my notes at pp. 86 and 
136 of Shaw's Notes on the Tkadou Kukis.J. H. H. 


his sanitary duties and are also used for food and sacrifices. 
Lakhers never train their dogs to hunt, as the Lusheis do, 
and the dog is less highly regarded and less kindly treated 
by the Lakhers. Lusheis, though they too relish baked 
puppy, are fond of dogs as companions, and train them 
to hunt. It is quite common to find on the roadside at the 
entrance to a Lushei village a large stone memorial erected 
to some man's favourite dog, giving its name and the number 
of different animals it was instrumental in bringing to the 
bag. The Lakher exhibits no such kindly feelings towards 
dogs, regarding them as the basest of animals. Dogs are 
sometimes given names, such as Beiteu, indicating that the 
dog was bought with an earthen pot, Iro or Whitey, Iveu 
(black dog), Igai (red dog), but it cannot be said that they 
answer to their names at all readily. On the whole a 
Lakher dog really leads a dog's life. To call grown dogs 
the Lakhers say, " Cheu, cheu, cheu," in calling puppies, 
" Ruru, ruru, ruru." 

Cats are valued as slayers of mice and rats. They are 
not eaten like tigers, they have a saw. A cat must never 
be bought, it can only be transferred as a gift. 1 It is 
believed that if a cat is bought it either dies or goes wild 
and runs off into the jungle. 

Every house keeps a few fowls. Fowls are essential for 
sacrifices, and the eggs are appreciated, whether fresh or 
stale. The fowls are of the small nondescript breed found 
all over the Lushai Hills. In the Lakher villages they are 
even smaller than in the Lushei villages, and are consider- 
ably less numerous. The chicken call is " Ti, ti, ti y ti, ti" 

Goats are fairly common, but they are not milked, and 
are only kept for their meat. The call for goats is " Paw, 
paw, paw." 

Bees are never kept, the Lakhers being entirely ignorant 
of the art of bee-keeping. Beeswax is in great demand for 
trade, however, and wild bees' nests are eagerly sought out 
and taken. 

The taking of the wild rock bees' nests requires good 
nerves, as the nests are always placed in most inaccessible 

1 So, too, most if not all Nagas. J. H. H. 


precipices. Four very long canes are cut, out of which a 
cross between a ladder and a lift is constructed. A number 
of cane hoops are made, about 44 inches in diameter. These 
hoops are tied to the ropes at equal distances from each 
other, and the ropes are run through the hoops, the space 
between each hoop being 3 feet. On the lowest hoop a 
cane and bamboo platform is built for the man to -stand 
on. Between each thick cane rope thinner canes are run 
from hoop to hoop to prevent the man inside from falling 
out. The end of each rope is tied on to a tree above the 
precipice and the ladder is let out over the side. The man 
who is going to take the nests enters at the top, climbs 
down from hoop to hoop till he reaches the platform, which 
has been lowered to a point opposite to the bees' nests. 
The operator then proceeds to knock off the nests with a 
stick on to the ground no easy task with the ladder swinging 
violently from side to side and a drop of many hundred feet 
beneath. Nests are never taken till the bees have aban- 
doned them, as it would be impossible for any one to cope 
with the bees while swinging in mid air. Men below collect 
the nests as they fall and boil them down in large brass 
pots brought for the purpose. When the wax has melted, 
a shallow trough is dug in the earth, a basket called lawbu 
is placed in this trough, and the melted wax and debris 
are poured into the basket, the wax flowing through into 
the earthen trough and the rubbish remaining in the basket. 
The wax is left a night to coagulate, and next morning is 
removed and cleaned. This wax is taken home to the 
chief, whose propert} 7 it is. He gives a share worth about 
two rupees to each of the men who took it, and sells the rest. 
Lakhers never bother about collecting the honey, all that 
they want is the wax. The day after the first wax of the 
year has been brought into the village is pana ; no work 
may be done in the fields, and the women may not weave. 
The reason for this pana is that as the wax melts, so may 
the paddy melt away also and die unless the pana is observed. 
The Lakhers despise honey, and regard it as shameful for 
any grown man to eat sweetstuff like honey, which is only 
fit for children. 



Lakhers have very few medicines, and prefer to have 
recourse to sacrifices when they are ill. They have, how- 
ever, no great objection to European remedies, are begin- 
ning to appreciate quinine, and submit readily to vaccina- 
tion. Such medicines, however, are only regarded as 
supplementary to the sacrifices, which are still performed 
regularly as soon as a person becomes ill. There are certain 
native remedies which are also believed to be effective, the 
Lakher name for medicine being fhanghna. For boils the 
prescription is to take earth from an ant's nest, mix it in 
equal proportions with rat's excrement and pound it up 
with a little water to make it into a plaster. This plaster 
is applied to the boils, and is said to make them burst. An 
alternative remedy is the crushed bark of the apahniapa 
bush, which is pounded up with water and applied to the 

For sore eyes due to conjunctivitis, a little of the patient's 
fresh urine is applied three times to each eye. The urine 
must be still warm when applied, as it loses its efficacy once 
it has got cold. 1 For cataract, the juice squeezed out of the 
leaves of a wood sorrel called ra-ah-pa (Oxalis corniculata, 
Linn.) is applied to the eye, and if the patient is lucky it is 
said to effect a cure. Another remedy is the juice of the 
young shoots of the angphi (Thysanolaena agrostis, Nees) 
rubbed into the affected eye. If these two remedies fail, 
some fresh milk from a woman who is suckling a child is 
applied to the eye, and is believed to do good. For snake- 
bite two remedies are used. The person bitten drinks as much 
beer as possible so as to make himself drunk quickly, and a 
red-hot iron is then plunged into the bite. If any one is 
bitten in the jungle where hot iron cannot be obtained, the 
bite is burnt with tinder out of the tinder-box. Both these 
remedies show an attempt to cauterise the affected part. 
A third remedy is to rub the bite with the liquid which exudes 
from the stem of the wild plantain, the patient being at the 
same time made as drunk as possible. 

1 Cf. The Sema Nagas, p. 103. J. H. H. 


For cuts the leaves of the Eupatorium are crushed in a 
mortar and the juice is applied to the cut. This juice is 
said to have great healing properties. I have seen a wound 
made on a man's leg by a bear which had been treated in 
this way, and it was healing up beautifully. 

Another remedy often resorted to is a poultice of crushed 
chilis, the chilis used being small and exceedingly hot. The 
chili paste is covered with a clean leaf, which is tied on with 
a piece of creeper. 

Another paste applied to cuts is made from the bark and 
juice of the laki tree (Callicarpa arborea, DC.). The bark 
is powdered and mixed into a paste with its own juice. 
This paste sticks on to the wound by itself, and does not 
have to be tied. All these remedies for cuts are said to be 
reliable and to effect many cures. 

As a remedy for scabies the juice of the thlava tree is used. 
A branch of this tree is cut and the bark and outer wood 
are removed. One end is placed in a fire, which causes a 
black juice to exude from the other end. This black juice 
is collected in a bamboo cup. The patient is bathed in hot 
water and the scabs are anointed with the juice. If this is 
done daily, a cure is said to be effected within a week ; 
whether the cure is due more to the hot bath than to the 
remedy applied I cannot say. 

A cure for fever that is now no longer in fashion was to 
break off a branch of the hriseupakong tree (Clausena hepta- 
phylla W. & A.), dip it in water and beat the patient with it. 
It is said that those who were lucky recovered as a result. 

If after a woman has given birth to a child she cannot rid 
herself of the after -birth, the remedy is to make her drink 
water in which the root of a creeper leurapaseikitong (Ano- 
dendron paniculata) has been crushed. This is drunk three 
or four times a day at intervals of two or three hours, and 
is said sometimes to have the desired effect. 

One of the diseases most dreaded by the Lakhers is 
syphilis, and there is a good deal of it in certain villages. 
Till about forty years ago the disease was unknown in the 
Lakher villages, being first introduced by a man who 
migrated from Veuko village in Haka to lana, whence it 


spread rapidly to other villages. As the disease was intro- 
duced from Veuko, the Lakhers call it veukohri, or the Veuko 
sickness. Syphilitics are given a separate part of the house 
to live in, and must sleep on the floor ; they are given 
separate plates and spoons and are not allowed to feed with 
the other memoers of the family. From these precautions 
it appears that the Lakhers have certain elementary ideas 
of the contagiousness of diseases. The following is a pre- 
scription for a remedy for syphilis. " Take ten or twenty 
crabs, place them in a hollow bamboo, fill the bamboo up 
with hot water, close it and keep it on the shelf above the 
hearth for three or four days until the crabs are well rotted. 
Cook the rotten crabs with rice and administer to the 
patient." It is believed that the juice of the rotten crabs 
enters the blood and kills the syphilis germ. If the patient 
is lucky, this medicine is said to be efficacious. 

A shot or spear wound is treated by placing the flesh of a 
fowl on the wound and tying it round with leaves, with the 
idea that the raw chicken's flesh would help fresh flesh to 
grow over the wound. 

For sore throats charcoal soaked in water is eaten by the 
patient, with, it is said, good results. 

For toothache the remedy is to crush up the leaves of a 
creeper called veihna (Paederia foetida, Linn.) and to suck 
them. This creeper is extremely evil smelling and also un- 
pleasant to the taste. It is said to ease the pain. Another 
cure used for toothache caused by eating bitter fruit is the 
leaves of a dock called phiapahapa (Polygonum Chinense, L.) 
which they chew and then spit out. 

Lakhers have no knowledge of any but the very simplest 
surgery. If a man sprains his wrist or ankle or puts out a 
knee or elbow the assistance of an old and wise man is 
invoked. The later pulls at the injured limb to get it to 
slip into place again. After this the limb is tied up in bamboo 
splints called lapadeuna and left until it has healed. 

A broken limb is treated similarly, being placed in splints 
made of split bamboo and tied round with bark string. If 
the arm becomes painful a hen is sacrificed. The sacrifice 
is called Achhangpho. 



The only poison known to the Lakhers is a plant called 
chamai (Oelsemium elegans, Benth.). This plant is a creeper 
with a yellow flower, and the most poisonous parts are the roots 
and leaves, a decoction of either being said to cause certain 
death. The Lakhers say that the flower also is poisonous, 
and that bees never go near it, as if they sip from it they die. 
Lakhers are very afraid of chamai, and never go near if they 
can possibly help it. 


There is much less feasting and jollity among the Lakhers 
than among the Lusheis. While the Lusheis have the great 
series of feasts known collectively as Khuangchawi, or the 
Thangchhuah feasts, which arc given by a rich man to acquire 
merit and help him on the way to Paradise, and which 
incidentally are an occasion for merry-making by the whole 
village, and also the Kut or annual feasts held in connection 
with the crops Chapcharkut, Mimkut, Pawlkut and Buhai, 
the Lakhers have but few festivals. It is true that the Siaha 
chief's family performs the Chin Khuangchawi, but that is 
only because this family is of Chin origin, and no other 
Lakhers, whether chiefs or commoners, ever perform this 
series of feasts. The nearest equivalent to the annual 
Lushei Kut is Pakhupila, the knee dance, which is not an 
annual affair, but is only performed very occasionally, when 
the village crops happen to have been exceptionally good. 
The numerous sacrifices performed are not occasions for 
rejoicing, and the two chief occasions for feasts are weddings 
and funerals. A marriage feast is always a big affair ; 
many pigs are slain and gallons of rice beer are consumed, 
while a wake also affords occasion for feasting and drinking. 
Occasionally a rich man who has built a new house gives a 
house-warming feast to the villagers, or a man asks his 
friends round to a drinking bout, but there is not the same 
succession of yearly feasts that there is in a Lushei village. 
Wine, woman and song may be said to be the chief pleasures 
of the Lakher. Wine has been dealt with, woman will be 


dealt with further on, but it remains here to say something 
about song. Lakhers are very fond of singing, and their 
songs have a good rhythm, and some of the tunes are quite 
melodious. When a large chorus of men and girls sing their 
songs in the evening round the camp fire they are very 
pleasant to hea**. 


Songs are sung at all beer-parties and wakes ; the young 
men and girls sing songs as they go to the fields and while at 
work. Lovers habitually serenade their lady loves with songs, 
accompanied with a melody on the tangta. Practically 
the only time when songs are not sung is during a pana or an 
aoh, as on these occasions all music and singing are ana. 

The songs may be divided into three classes : (1) The 
everyday songs, which include the Tlongsaihla, the Zeuh- 
nanghla, the Chapihla and the Awhkheupahla ; (2) the 
Hladeu, the songs sung while the la ceremony is being 
performed over a wild animal or the head of an enemy ; 
(3) the Pakhupihla, which is only sung at the Pakhupila or 
knee dance, and which it is ana to sing at any other time. 

(1) The Tlongsaihla, the Zeuhnanghla, the Chapihla and 
the Awhhlononghla are the oldest songs in use among the 
Lakhers. These songs all have the same tune, and the 
topics are similar, but they are sung in different languages, 
the Tlongsai, Zeuhnang and Chapi dialects being very 
different. The verses of these songs are long, and the tune 
is in a low key. The younger generation have found that 
the Awhkheupahla, which was started in Hnarang some 
fifteen years ago, is much easier both to compose and to 
sing, as the verses are short and the tune is in a higher key 
than the Tlongsaihla. In consequence the Awhkheupahla has 
now practically swept away the older form of songs in all 
the Lakher villages. The older songs are still sung by the 
older men, but the young men and girls sing nothing but 
the Awhkheupahla, which means the song of Chanticleer. 
Verses are constantly being added to it, so that it grows 
yearly. These verses may be of a topical nature and refer 
to any matter of local or political interest ; they may deal 


with love or with anything that has struck one of the young 
men as amusing or curious and as worth making a verse 
about. 1 When there is a large gathering of people, as at 
a beer feast, a marriage or after a successful hunt, some one 
starts the song by repeating a verse, the whole company 
then sing that verse twice over in chorus ; after that some 
one else repeats another verse, which is sung twice in chorus 
in the same way, and this goes on all night. If it is the 
Awhkheupahla that is being sung, the chorus is sung three 
times in succession. 

The following are some examples of the Awhkheupahla as 
sung in Savang : 

" Kala thang thong napadaita, hratlai chu na Salu ti cha danglei 
ra pa nawhleu saipina" 

" Government has now hemmed us in, on the north, on the 
south, on the east, on the west. Henceforth none of our young 
warriors will drink of the waters of the Salu river, where we 
always used to raid." 

" A ngong taka e chei tah ta, a pa nawng chhua chei la e na ti, 
tie kua pe la che khai aw vei e" 

" We have to pay two rupees house tax, and, not content with 
that, they now tell us to send fowls in for sale, would that we 
were not part of the Lushai Hills.'* 

" A raw vepi pe na chhua tlei, da ei khua li then, ra pa cha la, 
hre zong e teu pe me aw vei e." 

" Government has taken over all our country, we shall always 
have to work for Government, it were better had we never been 
born.' 1 

The above three verses show the feelings of the people 
when the unadministered territory was first brought under 
some sort of control. Though their country is not yet fully 
administered, they know the system in the other parts of 
the district and realise that they will eventually come under 
the same rules. 

The next verse is a hit by the Savang people at the Haka 
village of Ratu, who are a headstrong, unruly crowd and 
given to vain boasts. The Pois across the Beinong rather 

Oox^ l r - ' > he A , 

p. 328. N. fc. P. So also the Lhotas and Semas, and much more tunefully. 
H. H. 


look down on the Lakhers, who are glad of a chance to get 
a hit back. 

" A ngong taka pen aw va na, nata ma mah Ratu zapa, kala la 
cha kha ma na chhia" 

" You people of Ratu used to boast that you would never 
pay taxes to Government. Now you not only pay taxes, but 
have to build roads also. What about your boasts now? " 

The next verse was composed by Hniachai, son of the 
Savang chief, when he went on a visit to Aijal. 

" Asitleuna, Ezaw ra lia, ka la ngong ai e ke na le za rei thei 
leipa, Papu e ta ne." 

" I went on a journey to Aijal, in the land where the stars set. 
I knew no Lushei, I could only say ' Kapu, RapuS " 

The following is a verse directed at their chief Taiveu : 

" Hniachai pala, le bia rei la, vepa meithei sawng che nong cha 
ia, ngong chadi chhe na chhong paka ma." 

" Oh, father of Hniachai, if you really try, you can induce the 
Saheb to give me a fine foreign gun and licence." 

The songs show a distinct sense of humour, with a capacity 
for laughing at themselves surprising in such a primitive 

The specimens of love-songs which follow will be found 
in the same or similar shape in all the Lakher villages. 

The men sing : 

" Chavei chacha i cha teula longdu deupa na cha saikha la ta 
ra pa ta sikhong chine" 

" On each side of me you two lovely sisters are sitting. I love 
you both, but if I tell you not to get married, but to wait for 
me, I shall be laughed at." 

The girls sing : 

" Deu cha vana kei ma nai ta, sei ta ki pa mai haw he ta ne 
chhong kong reu lia i lai zo lo aw." 

" We will not get married, but will remain together in our 
home as firmly as a mithun's horns remain on his head." 

The Song of Two Cousins. 
The young men sing : 

" I si i cha dai thei kheu vei y i thla hrei cha ta aw sala lia ri a 
zeu ah vei chala" 

" My cousin, I cannot bear to leave you, but we are so closely 
related that we cannot get married." 


The girls sing : 

" Nama nata kei mall vasa, lia ri a zeu ah lei pacha la, naw 
hleu pa ti lai la vapi e" 

" We are indeed very unhappy, but we cannot get married. 
When we have got children we will marry your daughter to my 

Another love song follows, which shows that Lakher girls 
can keep their heads and are prudent enough to rebuff a 
lover whose intentions are not serious. 

The young men sing : 

" Na me me cha na pi leu la, cheu rapa ta song ro eu vei e." 

" Oh, my love, let me fondle your breasts. I am burning to 
marry you, but have no money to pay your price." 

The girls sing : 

" A sai pata pa sai vana, khang khang paw cha isang pa aw na." 

" You cannot fondle me just for fun. I am keeping myself 
for the man I shall love and marry." 

The young men sing : 

" Cha ta ta kha kei ma long duh, vasa i cha ngia na lai aw pa 
ei kha hria cha, a vaw hnang aw ma" 

" Do not refuse me thus, I love you so. Who is to know if I 
fondle you just once for remembrance ? " 

The girls sing : 

" Na song ro cha, cha lua tua la keima i cha khang khang kawh 
hra na veu hai li hua la hnai va pi e" 

" I also love you very much, but you must first pay my price 
to my parents and marry me, and then we will sleep on one 

There are innumerable verses like these. New verses are 
constantly being composed, but they do not displace the 
old favourites, the new verses being discarded after a trial 
if they do not meet with popular favour. 

The following verses from the Tlongsaihla are examples 
of the older form of song : 

The Tlongsaihla. 

1. " Siata hrai no chong lia chang lai nang ta daw ei tlipa i 
khia hlong di dua ra ma a thei khai i nata" 

" I am a young man. I have shot a bull elephant and a wild 
boar. I am beside myself for joy, I have actually shot what 
till now I had only seen in dreams." 


2. " Nong pi la ma Ma hraw na pho cheu e chho ta a to pala 
daw ei nang chhong rai ti ni hla ta" 

" We all pass ten months in our mother's womb, but a man 
who is blessed by God can shoot a bison between sunrise and 

This next verse was composed in honour of Theulai, chief 
of Saiko. 

" Siata nata khimai sen pakheu ne thaleumasa vazong ngong 
vapaw paku ta ra nong chho ta" 

" Ho went to war and slew an enemy, he also shot an elephant 
and a bull mithun. No one else has ever killed a man, an 
elephant and a mithun on one expedition. Let his name be 
famous for over." 

The next verse is in honour of agriculture. 

" Sa leu thleu hua lua la lai la ta, a tha leu ma va sang dai tlei 
viasi a chong nong chai na." 

" My friend, keep your thoughts on cultivating your field. 
Paddy is the most famous and most valuable thing in the world." 

Before the Awhkheupahla swept the field the most popular 
form of song in the Lakher villages was the AwJMononglila 
or the Pullet's song. It is now regarded as old-fashioned, 
and is seldom heard. 

1. Viapi meithei apeu hreu zualua ta, chho kha ida Sangeu 
chiavala khazia siasi na ka vei. 

When you fire off your gun, its report resounds. Why did 
you not cut off the game and shoot it on the Sangeu * mountain, 
oh hunter ? 

2. Areu siata kiong mai phapa, pachhong tangbi zah lai sacheupa 
viapi Saipahra daita. 

We have always shot the white-tusked elephants and clean- 
horned bison in the hills to the west and taken their heads to 
adorn our verandahs. Nowadays the foreign armies have 
reached Saipahra." 2 

3. Thli hua vawsi tla khongla e longdu rangta naw pho hno 
mawla raisa eisa chong liata. 

Let a soft breeze blow and waft across the hill to me the scent 
of my loved one, to lighten my work. 

1 The Sangeu mountain, like Mawma, is supposed to be inhabited by a 
spirit which is kindly disposed towards hunters. N. E. P. 

2 Saipahra is the Lakher name for Mandalay, and this reference to the 
arrival of the British at Mandalay dates the song. N. E. P. 


4. Razanongta cha vaw rangmawsa Lailua nata Theulai mang- 
chhang vara tei chhah na taita. 

Let Queen Victoria l write a letter extolling the fame of 
Lailua and Theulai to the ends of the world. 

5. Lapong maitong chhongla zonghrai rieu Mara khangang alu 
khang leipa, tliapa sihnang kual mawla. 2 

Pluck the orchid from the roadside and bind it in your hair. 
You will not be merry and beat our Lakher drums. Go home 
and leave me. 

6. Kirong aki bahla mai awn nata daw ei nghiahna ahrei 
nangta sara nama tlei bama. 

Have you ever seen a bison with bright horns shining like 
ripe plantains when you have been pursuing game in the jungles? 

The song which follows is known as the Pakhupihla, or 
the song of the knee dance. It can only be sung when the 
Pakhupihla is danced ; it is ana to sing it at any other time, 
and it is believed that were it sung at any other time the 
singers would all suffer from boils. I tried hard to persuade 
them to sing it to me, but the belief in the prohibition was 
too strong, and as I was never lucky enough to strike a 
Pakhupihla day, I have never heard it sung. As in the other 
songs, the verses are sung alternately by the men and the 


I chong khi sua tiria za chong cheu la, keu lei vasa nong si 
nang ta. 

Oh, rain be kind and do not fall or the girl I love will get wet. 

Daw ei rei la e ti song pi rei chala tla la ra ho e khai tlong lo e. 

The young men's song is very beautiful, it is like the soft 
running of a stream. 

Long mo sai ta la tla i tla 9 rai sa va la zang naw khang vei. 

It is very pleasant all dancing together in a ring. We do 
not want to go to work. 

Daw ei ilia pa la ho mang bo ula, pa hmong li tang ta na a tang. 

Watch the way the young man is dancing. It is like the 
flight of an eagle. 

1 The Lakhers call Queen Victoria Razanong, the Mother of Kings, or 
Kongpanangnong, the Mother of the Company. The Lusheis call her 
Kumpinu, also meaning the Mother of the Company. This verse is an 
attempt on the part of the writer to make out that Lailua, the Chief of 
Thlatla, and Theulai, Chief of Saiko, the two leading chiefs of the time, 
were known to Queen Victoria. N. E. P. 

1 This verse shows a girl apostrophising a young man she is fond of, who 
has disappointed her by not coming to sing and drink with her. N. E. P. 


Lia nong saita la tla vaw tla e chi, chia chi karo rai tua la. 

Oh, girls, do not think of nothing but dancing, you must also 
hand round nicotine water. 

Una zong chhi tang kei ma nai ta, lia nong la tla la khei lei ta. 
I am so ugly that I cannot get any one to dance with me. 

The hladeu are war or hunting songs sung on the spot 
after taking an enemy's head or killing big game, and also 
when performing the la ceremony over the heads of men 
or big game. As soon as he has picked up an animal he 
has shot, a Lakher intones one of these hladeu over it, and 
the sound coming up through the jungle is weirdly im- 
pressive. On reaching his village he repeats it, and sings 
it again at the la ceremony. All hladeu are sung in a sort 
of bastard Chin no hladeu have ever been composed in 
the Lakher language. All the hladeu sung by the Lakhers 
were composed very many years ago, and new ones are not 
introduced. It is a curious thing that the Lusheis also have 
no hladeu of their own, but use Chin hladeus in the same way 
as the Lakhers, and indicates that Lusheis and Lakhers alike 
are branches of the tribe known in Burma as Chins. 

The following is a Savang hladeu used both after heads 
have been taken in a raid and after a successful hunt. It 
was given me by Khangcheh of Savang, who sang it on the 
occasion of the last Zeuhnang raid. 

" Vong khing a ka e, uan tluange pasa a ilia khe, 

Za tha a hlei la maw lia nu a lia ka thlaw hna e. 
It is said that any one who has shot a bear is a brave man. 
I have shot a huge elephant, so my name is famous far and wide. 

Ka si te khua ve, te kaw ravana ke zo khua e lamaw tluang zo e 
he long ka tha ke. 

I have raided our enemy village, I have killed a man with 
my dao. My name will indeed be famous when we approach 
the village. 

Ka nu e zei maw na phu na ka ti chu, 
Tisi e nga hri nga daw law ka ti kho hla. 
My mother, I have shot nothing I have not even caught a 

few small fish in the Tisi river. Do not come to meet me at 

the entrance to the village. 

Sai lia ha chia cho e, dara zei dara maw, 
Chhei lawi ki mai uasa hla e. 

I shall never be able to shoot a bull elephant with white tusks, 
nor a wild mithun with widespread horns. 


Na safu tu e na hming hia via vo law a hnawng e zo tua la maw 
ma chha hma na sa le law. 

Oh, bull mithun, go along slowly in front of me, and I will 
shoot you to make my name famous. 

Another hladeu used after shooting big game has a pleasant 
rhythm in the vernacular and runs as follows : 

Sum hnaw Tea nu khe na i te, 
Zei man na man maw 
Kan turn lu Hum ai-e ti le 
Hai leng in la law. 

Oh, mother, what have you seen in your dreams ? 
I have shot the animal I went out to shoot, so come and meet 
me with a gourd full of sahma. 

Again the following would be classed as a hladeu, though 
it does not seem a very appropriate song for a successful 
hunter to sing : 

Sum hnaw ka thai nu aw, 
Fangfa zan thum ria ka rawn law, 
Tu lilum khawih vawm sale 
Ha tha ka ruai a si lo e. 

Oh, wife, prepare enough rice for me for three nights 1 stay 
in the jungle, and put it in my bag. 

Even though I cannot shoot a bear or a wild boar, I am going 
out hunting with the others. 

The following is a rather fine example of a Lushei hlado, 
given to show how very similar the Lushei hlado is to the 
Lakher hladeu, both being written in the same bad Chin. 
The song is very old, and is said to have been written by 
one Thanglung. I have heard it sung by Lusheis returning 
down a river in boats after shooting game, arid it was very 

Rai rah e, unau neilo ma lawng sathang 

va kai chue. Thingsire par hnuaia khan Thanglunge 

nau ang ka tah hai e, 

nan ang ka tah hai e, 

thingsire par hnuaia khan 9 

Thanglunge, nau ang ka tah hai e. 

I, a poor brotherless man, all by myself have slain a wild 
beast. Beneath the flowers of the chestnut tree I am weeping 
for joy. Oh, Thanglunga. 

Tlang a e, an vawng tlire, runa naubang a chim chue 
Leng hnene, awm vial e maw kawl rawnc, 
An lung la herse law, An lung la herse law. 
Leng hnene, awm viale, an lung la herse law. 




A gun has been fired on the hill. The boys all rush out of 
the houses to meet the hunter. 

Let all the young men who are love-making follow my example, 
and seek a better pastime, and come and meet the hunter also. 

As the above examples show, the hladeu are not necessarily 

The following verses from each of the songs, with the tune 
written in tonic sol-fa, will enable any one interested to see 
what the tunes are like for themselves : 


(Is :-:-.! Is :-:-.t 

C I Daw ei rei la 


C | tla la'.'r 1 :-.! 
ti song pi rei - 

s :- :-.l 

s.s:- :-.! II :- :- 

ra ho 

' ' 

I khai tlong lo e. 


C | Ka la thang thong | na pa dai | ta. 

(Id :-:-.n|s :-:-, 

C I Hra tlai chu na 

n :- :-.d In 

Sa - lu ti 

cha la. 

(Id :- :-.n|s :- :-. 

( I Dann; lei ra p 

- :-.s 


n ;- i- .d |n i- ;- .n 

naw hleu sai pi 

naw hleu sai 

pi I 

naw hleu 




s :- :s |s :- :s 

hnaw - inka nu k 

d :- :- |- :- :- 

n a, 

n :- :-.n |d :- :- 

sai pi na. 

Ife :- :- 


(Is :- :s |s_^_^fe 

Clna i te 

s :- :s |s :- : 

Ka turn e 


Zei mail na man 

s :- :s |s :- :-.fe 

tluni ai e - - ti 

fe :n :- |- :- :- 

fe :- :n 


:s ) 

Ha > 


:- :- .s Is 

leng e 


fe :- :- |n 

la law e. 





(.d s :- 

(. Sia ta 

-.8 |1 .s :l.,_f 

hrai no chonglia, 

1 :s .n Id : 

chang lai e 

1 :s .n Id : ) 
nang ta e 3 

llf - 

I- :- .d s 

Daw ei 

:- .s |1 .s :1 1 

tlia pa i khia 1 

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hia~ ta 

Musical Instruments. 

Lakher songs are generally accompanied by an obligate 
on a drum. Gongs are of all sizes, and vary greatly in 
sweetness and depth of tone. The larger gongs, known as 
dawkhang, vary in size from six to ten spans in circum- 
ference. The smaller gongs, known as viadaw, vary from 
two to five spans in circumference. The Lakhers also use 
pairs of small bell-metal gongs known as dawchheu and 
pairs of small brass gongs known as ladaw. At a dance 
there is a regular band beating on gongs and drums and 
blowing on bugles, and managing to evolve, if not a very 
definite tune, at any rate a very strongly marked rhythm. 
Gongs, bugles and cymbals are imported from Burma ; the 
drums are made in the village. The bugles are called chiami, 
and the cymbals pJiotla. 

The name for a drum is khang. Drums are barrel-shaped. 
They are made out of aveu wood (Gmelina arborea, Roxb.). 


A log about 2 feet long is cut, and hollowed out with an 
axe-head, which is removed from the haft and tied to a 
3-foot stick and used like a cheese scoop, the process con- 
tinuing till the wooden walls of the drum are quite thin. 
Drums are usually about 1 foot in diameter. For the 
membrane, barking-deers' skins or serows' skins are always 
used, as they are thinner than the skins of the other animals 
available. The skin to be used for the thongs, to hold in 
place the membranes, is first soaked in water till it is quite 
soft, then cut into two long strips to form the thongs, dried 
in the sun and laid aside till the membranes are ready. 
The skin to be used for the membranes is then soaked in 
water, and when quite soft is stretched over each end of 
the hollow cylinder and lashed in place by the leather 
thongs, which have been prepared beforehand. Once a 
drum has been made it cannot be tuned, and the tension 
of the membranes cannot be varied at will. The performer 
beats on each end of the drum with his hands. It is played 
at all feasts and wakes, and can be played by either men 
or women. Besides the Ichang, there are five indigenous 
Lakher musical instruments the tangta, the siaramang, the 
siaramang chanongpa, the chaei and the tlaipi. 

The tangta is a one-stringed violin. Its resonator is made 
out of a hollow gourd, the top of which has been cut off and 
replaced by leaves of chaihna (Phrynium capitatum, Willd.) 
tightly stretched over it and fastened to the sides with 
bamboo pegs. A hole is made through each side of the 
gourd to admit of the passage of a split bamboo, which forms 
the neck of the instrument, and between whose ends the 
single string is stretched, being looped at each end to the 
bamboo neck. The string consists of a thin piece of fibre 
from the sasai palm (Caryota urens). The bridge is made 
of a small bit of gourd. The instrument is held at the neck 
with the left hand, the fingers of which are used to make the 
notes by pressing on the string, the bow (tangtatongna), 
which is held in the right hand, consists of a thin piece of 
split bamboo, which the player wets in his mouth before 
applying it to the string. The tangta is the most popular 
Lakher instrument. It is said to express longing, and is 





chiefly used by the young men when sitting about in the 
house of the girl they are courting, and also by men who 
have lost their wives and who often seek consolation in music. 

The siaramang chapawpa is a bamboo flute. It is closed 
at each end. At one end a hole is made in the side of the 
bamboo to blow down ; at the other end two holes are 
made, and by placing the fingers on these, notes are pro- 
duced. The young men blow on this instrument when going 
to the fields and sitting about in the j/mm-house. 

The siaramang chanongpa is another kind of bamboo flute. 
It is open at both ends. One end is notched for the lip to 
fit the mouthpiece ; at the other end four holes arc made 
in the side for producing notes. The performer blows down 
the mouth-piece and makes the notes with his fingers. It 
is generally played on the way to the fields. 

The tlaipi is a bamboo zither. 1 It consists of a joint of 
hollow bamboo closed at each end by a node. One side of 
the bamboo is shaved away so as to leave two strings of 
thin bamboo ; small wedges of bamboo which can be slid 
up and down are placed under these strings so as to tighten 
or loosen them, and the instrument is held in the two hands, 
the strings being twanged with the thumb. It is played by 
young men out courting and also when camping in the 

The only other instrument used by the Lakhers is the 
Jew's harp, which they call chaei. There are two forms of 
bamboo chaei, and an iron chaei has recently been intro- 
duced from Arakan. The oldest form of chaei is a small 
straight piece of bamboo hollowed out so as to leave a 
tongue in the middle. At the end towards which the tongue 
points is a loop of string, which goes round the little finger 
of the left hand. At the end by the base of the tongue is a 
rather longer piece of string. The instrument is held so 
that the tip of the tongue of the harp is opposite to the 
player's mouth, and the string at the base of the tongue is 
jerked continuously to cause the tongue to vibrate. Unless 
the string is pulled, merely blowing on the tongue of the harp 

1 I noticed similar zithers from the Moluccas in the Dutch exhibit at 
the French Colonial Exhibition in Paris in 1931. N. E. P. 


produces no sound. The newer form of bamboo chaei is on 
the same principal, but is shaped like a small cricket bat. 
The iron chaei, known as thuachaei, consists of a piece of 
umbrella rib bent in the shape of a key handle, with a 
thin steel tongue running through the middle. This tongue 
is soldered on to the middle of the key handle, in which a 
small niche has been made to hold it. These are not yet 
made by the Lakhers, but doubtless they will copy them. 

Dancing is a common form of amusement, and while 
songs are being sung a man generally dances as well, and 
acts as a sort of leader of the chorus. Dancing takes place 
at all feasts and at weddings and wakes, married persons 
taking part as well as the young men and girls. Lakher 
dancing purports to be an imitation of the fly. The fly 
when it walks is said to rub first its hind feet together once, 
then its front feet together once, after which it moves to 
the right, rubs its feet together again, and then moves to 
the left and rubs its feet together again, and so on, and 
the Lakhers say that their dancing steps are based on these 
movements of the fly. 


Lakher children have few games. Swings (zizapuapa) are 
popular with both boys and girls, the swing being made of 
a long coil of ari cane (Calamus erectus, Roxb.), with a loop 
in the end in which to sit, slung from a bough of some tall 
tree just outside the village. The little girls are very fond 
of dolls, which they call maitanong. The dolls are made of 
clay. Their hair consists of black thread. They are dressed 
up as men and women, and their hair is arranged accordingly. 
The mode of play is similar to that of their little sisters in 
other parts of the world. There are regular families of dolls 
with their children. Marriages are arranged, and the price 
is paid in gongs and bell-metal basins made of clay. Mothers 
and fathers put their doll children to sleep and watch over 
them when sick, and generally make believe that the dolls 
are real people. 

Boys do not play with dolls ; they build little houses, 
make model traps for birds and beasts, pretend to cook 


meals, go out shooting small birds with the pellet bow, 
stalking flies with their blow-pipes or potting unsuspecting 
strangers or people they dislike with their pop-guns. There 
is very little difference between Lakher and English boys ; 
both are adept at getting into mischief. 

The blowpipe is called buchahmong, and consists of a 
section of young bamboo about 1| feet long and 1 inch in 
diameter. The dart is a small sharpened bamboo stick 
about 5 inches long and feathered at the butt. This dart 
is blown out of the pipe, and flies about 10 yards. There 
is great competition to see who can blow the dart furthest 
or who can slay most flies (cf. Fig. 2, p. 52). 

The pop-gun is called phailaipa. 1 The barrel consists of 
a narrow section of young bamboo about 1 foot long, fitted 
with a bamboo plunger. For bullets the round fruit of a 
creeper called sabipa is used. A berry is placed at the 
muzzle of the barrel and another in the middle. The 
plunger is knocked down hard on to the berry in the 
middle, and the berry at the muzzle is fired off, and stings 
people smartly up to a range of 20 yards. After firing, the 
berry that was in the middle of the barrel will be found at 
the muzzle, and the gun must be loaded with another berry 
in the middle before being fired again (cf. Fig. 3, p. 52). 

There are a few set games which are worth mentioning. 
Bachhawpa is a children's game which requires from five to 
fifteen players. The players hold hands and form a ring. 
One child stands in the middle and breaks the ring with a 
blow of his hand. As soon as the ring is broken, the children 
all run off, pursued by the child who was standing in the 
middle. Each player who reaches a tree is safe, but if the 
pursuer catches any one before he reaches a tree the child 
caught is considered to have been killed, and is out. The 
children who are left in have to go on running from tree to 
tree, and the pursuer chases them until he has caught them 
all, and then another child goes into the middle. The game 
is said to be an imitation of war. It is practically the same 

1 Garos have an exactly similar pop-gun, which they call sintalok or 
khasi watok, and use the same kind of ammunition. N. E. P. So have 
the southern Sangtams of the Naga Hills. J. H. H. 


as the game played by English children called " Tiggy 
Tiggy Touch-Wood." 

Masia-a-cha, or Elephant Hunting, 1 is the name of 
another game played by boys only. Five boys dress up 
as elephants, each wearing a long cloth, which is wound 
round so as to hang down in front like an elephant's trunk. 
Five other boys take the part of elephant-hunters and set 
off to catch the elephants. A boundary line is drawn on 
the ground between the two parties. The hunters cross this 
line and try to catch the elephants. The elephants beat 
those who come to catch them with their trunks, and any 
boy who falls over as a result of the beating is considered 
to have been killed by the elephants. If the hunters can 
drag the elephants over the boundary line, they have caught 
them and won the game, and if the elephants manage to 
knock over all their opponents they are victorious. 

Seuleucha 2 is a game played with the seeds of the large 
creeper bean (Entada scandens), both by children and by 
adults of both sexes. There is no limit to the number of 
players. First of all they toss to decide who is to start 
playing. The tossing is done by rubbing one side of two 
beans with dirt, holding the beans together and dropping 
them on the ground, the player whose bean falls with the 
clean side uppermost winning the toss and starting to play. 
A base and a goal-line are drawn on the ground. The 
thrower must not go beyond the base to throw, and if he 
lets his bean roll beyond the goal-line he loses his turn. 
On the goal-line a bean is stood up on end, and the aim of 
the players is to hit this bean with their own bean. The 
first move is called Tita. The bean is bowled along as near 
as possible to the goal bean without crossing the back line, 
and from the point where the bean comes to rest the player 
can advance one span towards the goal-line. He then flicks 
his bean at the goal bean, and if the goal bean is knocked 
over the player continues, but if not one of the other players 
gets a turn. The bean has to be flicked successively with 

1 Ao children play a somewhat similar game. Cf. J. P. Mills, The Ao 
Nagas, p. 155. N. E. P. 

2 Cf. Mills, The Ao Nagas, and Dr. Button's note, p. 156. N. E. P 


each finger of the hand and then with the thumb, the moves 
being called Kadang, Liapeu, Pazong, Kupi. When this 
has been completed the player hops on his right leg and 
kicks the bean along with his big toe, aiming at the goal 
bean when he is near enough. This is called Charo. After 
this the bean is placed between the big and first toes 
and the player hops towards the goal. This is called Laki. 
Next the bean is placed on various parts of the body and 
dropped off from them towards the goal, pursued and 
caught before it crosses the boundary, and thrown at the 
goal bean from the point at which it was caught. The first 
drop is from the right shoulder, and is called Ngiatla. Next 
the bean is held between the chin and the neck. This is 
called Boha. Next between the lips, the bean being spat 
towards the goal. This is called Phuhlu. The bean is then 
placed on the bridge of the nose. This is called Hnabu. 
Next on the right eye, and called Mangkho ; next on the 
right ear, called Baibai ; then on the top of the forehead, 
called Khipa ; then finally twice on the nape of the neck, 
the first time being called Hnangla, the second Pakhei. 
This makes a full game. When a player misses his shot, 
his opponent gets a turn, and starts from the beginning. 
When the second player misses, the first has a second turn, 
and starts from the point he had reached when he missed, 
and so on. The winner is the man who has completed most 
full games when the game is broken off. A full game is 
called Dokha. 

Longbeu-a-cha. A game played by men only. The name 
of this game means " Stone, hole, game.'' A board is 
scratched on the ground consisting of five small holes on 
each side. 

o o o o o 
o o o o o 

Five small pebbles are dropped into each hole. There are 
two players, who squat one on each side of the board. The 
player who starts picks up the five stones from any of the 
spaces on his side of the board and drops one of these into 
each hole on his right going round the board ; then he picks 


up the stones out of the hole next in front of that into which 
he dropped his last stone ; he continues to do this until he 
finds that the hole next in front of that into which he has 
dropped his last stone is empty, when the stones in the 
hole in front of the empty hole are his, and he takes them 
and sets them aside. The other player then has his turn, 
and, starting with any hole on his side of the board, he goes 
round to the left, and distributes his stones as already de- 
scribed until he ends up at an empty hole, when he takes 
the stones in the hole in front of it. The game goes on till 
all the stones have been annexed by the players, and the 
player who has acquired most stones wins. If after re- 
moving the stones from one hole the player finds there is 
an empty space in front of that hole, he can take the stones 
in the hole in front of that empty hole also. Considerable 
skill and observation are involved in working out the distri- 
bution of stones so as to end up with an empty hole in front 
of a hole with a large number of pebbles. 

The favourite games for men are wrestling and putting 
the weight, though the Lakhers are not nearly so keen on 
either of these amusements as the Lusheis. In a Lushei 
village the young men wrestle every night in the zawlbuk 
as a matter of course, and it is rare to pass through a Lushei 
village in the evening, or in fact at any time of day, without 
finding two or three young fellows putting the weight. 
Possibly the fact that there are no zawlbuks among the 
Lakhers leads to a lack of rivalry among the young men, 
and hence to a lesser interest in games. Whatever the 
cause may be, wrestling is not an everyday amusement in 
Lakher villages. The Lakher name for wrestling is apiapa. 
The rules of the game are different from those of Lushei 
wrestling, the aim of the wrestler being to throw his 
opponent, and not merely to lift him off the ground, as 
in Lushei wrestling. Once a man has been thrown, he has 
lost the bout. Sometimes a hefty young fellow will throw 
his adversary right over his head. Wrestling competitions 
are generally held at weddings, or when young men from 
other villages are on a visit and inter-village competitions 
take place. 




Chholawngtheupa. Putting the weight. A large 
round stone is used and the furthest throw wins. This is 
the most popular game, and competitions are held with 
visitors from other villages. 

Measurements of Time. 
The Lakher year is divided into the following seasons : 

Nangpinang. Spring and hot weather. 
Sopinang. The rains. 
Chavanang. Autumn. 
Chasipaw. Winter. 

Peitla. The fall of the straw, meaning the end of the 

The year starts with the month of Naw, which corresponds 
roughly to January. Each month, according to Lakher 
counting, has thirty days. The Lakher year therefore does 
not exactly correspond with our year, and it is seldom that 
two Lakhers will agree at once as to what month it is, and 
a question as to what the month is generally leads to heated 
discussion. The fixed point on which most Lakhers base 
their reckoning is Peitla, the end of the harvest, which itself 
varies according as the harvest is early or late. For practical 
purposes the Lakher months correspond roughly with our 
months as given below : 

Naw . . Meaning the young month .... January. 
Hmeupi . The month when the ahmeu tree (Ficus benga- 

lensis) is budding. ..... February. 

Pami . . The month when the pami creeper (Congea 

tomentosa) is in flower .... March. 

Pachaw . The dry month ...... April. 

Patong . . The month when the patong (Lagerstroemia 

flos reginae) is in flower .... May. 
Chhipa . The bad month. So called because it rains 

heavily and vegetables cannot be planted . June. 
Khipa . . The month in which there is plenty to eat, as 

the vegetables are all ripening . . . July. 
Thlazang . The dark month. So called because it is always 

wet and misty ..... August. 

Thlara . . The bright month. So called as the rains begin 

to clear ....... September. 

Phiata . . The month when the paddy is first pulled up . October. 
Phiapi . . The harvest month when the paddy is being 

pulled up as fast as possible . . . November. 
Di . The month when the harvest is complete . December. 


Each Lakher month has thirty days, and the month is a 
lunar month. The Lakhers believe that the moon is a man, 
and has a home. When the moon begins to come out of 
his home and a new moon is visible, they call it Thlapa a di 
(the moon is coming out). For the next fifteen days the 
moon continues to come out of his home little by little, till 
the whole of his body has appeared and it is full moon, 
which the Lakhers call Thlapa a polo (the moon is round). 
For the next fifteen days the moon gradually goes into his 
home again, and when he has completely re-entered his 
home and is no longer visible, it is known as Thlapa a lei 
(the moon has disappeared). The moon rests one night in 
his home, and then starts on his travels again and opens 
another month. The Lakhers have no measure of time 
corresponding to our week, and the days have no names. 
Mr. Lorrain, the missionary at Saiko, has invented names 
for the days of the week, but they are not in general use. 
The Lakher day is not measured by hours, but there are 
fifteen divisions in the day, each of which has a name. 

1. Chanongsadaiti, meaning the time for women to start pounding rice 

(about 4 a.m.). 

2. Meupatiniti . Breakfast time (between 6 and 7 a.m.). 

3. Leulaaiti . . The time for going to work (about 7 a.m.). 

4. Chanongthang- The time when women return from carrying firewood 

phopatloti. (about 9 a.m.). 

5. Nangchhongpali- The time for the midday meal (12 noon). 


6. Nang a kia . The sun has turned (about 2 p.m.). 

7. Deupipa beich- The time for cooking the food for a large family 

hangti. (about 3 p.m.). 

8. Nalawpa beich- The time for cooking the food for a small family 

hangti. (about 4 p.m.). 

9. Zapatiniti . . The time for the evening meal (between 5 and 6 p.m.). 

10. Nangalla . . Sunset. 

11. Laiphongchongti The time for the young men to go off to the house 

in which they spend the night (between 6 and 7 

12. Hawtimongro . The time that children go to sleep (about 8 p.m.). 

13. Zachangchhong The dark hours of the night. 

14. Awhkhangrasa . Cock-crow (about 4 a.m.). 

15. Nangchhi . . Sunrise. 

There are several ways of expressing short intervals of 
time. For a very short period the term is mangvihlata, 
meaning within the closing and opening of an eye. If any 
one wanted to say that he would return in a short time, the 


term he would use is songkhata. For a period of about a 
quarter of an hour the term Icaropadakhua is used, signifying 
the time that elapses between two sips of nicotine- water. 
For an hour the term used is lobeihmangUiua, the time it 
takes to cook a pot of rice, and for about two hours they 
say lobeihmang sabeihmang khua, the time required to cook 
a pot of rice and then a pot of meat. The timing may not 
be accurate, but it serves for all practical purposes. Periods 
of past time greater than one or two years are often worked 
out by counting the different slopes which were cultivated 
since the occurrence the date of which it is desired to fix. 
Lakhers always remember the order in which they cultivated 
the different slopes of the village land, and if a Lakher wants 
to fix the date of a certain occurrence, the only way he can 
do so is by saying that it was in the year in which the jhums 
were cut on a certain hill. By then finding out what slopes 
were cut in each succeeding year, it is possible to ascertain 
how many years have elapsed since a given occurrence took 

If it is desired to fix the date of an occurrence more 
accurately, the ordinary way to do so is to refer it to some 
definite stage in the growth of the crop, and they would say 
that it took place " at the second weeding," or " when the 
rice was knee high," " when the maize had just germinated," 
or " at the beginning of the harvest." 

Another but less accurate way of measuring the lapse of 
time is by the periodic rat famines which always occur 
after the seeding of bamboos. Bamboos flower, seed, die 
down, and spring up again at fairly regular intervals, different 
species of bamboos seeding at different times. When the 
bamboos seed, rats appear in millions, whether it is that 
they swarm together from all over the country to eat the 
seed, or whether eating the seed makes them phenomenally 
prolific which I am inclined to think is the case is not, 
I believe, known for certain. The Lakher will tell you that 
the seed makes the rats prolific and gigantic, and not only 
that, but creatures half rat and half caterpillar are produced 
during a rat famine. They will also tell you that the rats 
are born out of the soil, and will give as a reason that at the 


last mawta some perfectly good rats were cleaned, cooked 
and eaten in Saiko, and that when they were pouring the 
gravy out of the pot, a deposit of mud was found at the 
bottom. Far from suspecting the cleanliness of the cook, 
they at once deduced that the mud at the bottom of the 
pot was the essential material of the rats, who had been 
born by earth being turned into rats instead of by the 
natural methods of reproduction, which could never have 
been responsible for the phenomenal numbers that appeared. 
Whatever the cause may be, the fact remains that a plague 
of rats always follows hard on the heels of the seeding of 
the bamboo. Having eaten all the seed they can find, the 
rats swarm over the country, devour all the crops, and 
when there is no more left to eat eventually die of starva- 
tion. 1 After a plague of rats, therefore, there is always a 
famine, and before British rule led to the establishment of 
relief measures, hundreds died from famine and disease, 
cholera and dysentery following hot-foot on the track of 
famine, and levying heavy toll from a people weakened by 
lack of food. These famines remain indelibly impressed on 
the minds of the people, and if a man is asked when an event 
occurred in the more or less distant past, a common answer 
is " Before or after such and such a famine." The Lakhers 
know only one kind of famine, the mawta, which follows on 
the seeding of the ramaw bamboos (Melocanna bambusoides). 
The Lusheis recognise two, one the maotam, which corre- 
sponds to the mawta, the second the thingtam, which latter 
follows on the flowering of Bambusa Tulda, Roxb., and 
DendrocalamuA Hookeri. The Lakhers, however, have 
never suffered from a thingtam, and only count by mawtas. 
They say that the period between two seedings of Melo- 
canna bambusoides is fifty years, and that between each 
seeding another kind of bamboo called rangia (Cephalo- 
stachyum capitatum) always seeds, but its seeding does not 
attract rats, and the period at which it seeds is generally one 
in which exceptionally good crops are obtained. The 

1 In the Naga Hills they migrate in large bodies, and the Dikhu river 
has been known to run thick with rats drowned as they tried to cross. 
J. H. H. 


seeding of the rangia is called lanongateu. Dates are fixed 
approximately, therefore, by referring to events as having 
occurred before or after such and such a mawta or lanon- 
gateu. Lakhers say that any one who as a boy has passed 
through a mawta is almost sure to see a lanongateu, but that 
few people see two mawtas, as people who are ageing 
generally die from short commons at the beginning of a 
mawta. It is only long-lived people who see two mawtas, and 
any one who has seen two mawtas and two lanongateus is 
quite exceptionally old. Theulai, the old chief of Saiko, who 
was said to be over 100 when he died, was about twenty when 
he passed through his first mawta, and after this he saw two 
mawtas and two lanongateus. This would make Theulai 120 
when he died. He was exceedingly old when I saw him in 
1925, and I do not think that the calculation is very far 

Measures of Length. 

The Lakher practically always estimates length with 
reference to certain portions of his body. 

Patangcha . The length of a finger nail. 

Kuchakha . The length of a top finger joint. 

Kuclianang . The length of the top two finger joints. 

Pazongsa . The length of the index finger. 

Sokha . . The height of a fist. 

Sotong . . The height of a fist with thumb stretched out upright. 

Fazongkha . The distance between the tip of the thumb and the tip of 

the forefinger, the lesser span. 
Khakha . The distance between the tip of the thumb and the tip of 

the middle finger ; the greater span. 
Deukha . . A cubit. The distance from the elbow point to the tip of 

the middle finger. 

Bacha . . The length of the arm from shoulder to finger tips. 
Chachhci . The distance from the centre of the chest to the tip of the 

fingers of the outstretched arm. 
Kukhi . . The distance from the left elbow across the chest to the tip 

of the fingers of the outstretched right arm. 
Lakha . . A fathom, the distance from finger tip to finger tip of the 

outstretched arms. 

The distance between places is measured in terms of fields 
or of days' journeys, the shortest distance described being 
along theukhua, the distance of a good throw at putting the 


To hi ti ahla 
Leu kha ahla 
Pi kha ahla . 

kara kha si 




The length of a maize and vegetable field. 
The length of an ordinary jhum. 
The length of five j hums. 

A distance that can be covered between early morning 
breakfast and the midday meal. 

Nangkha si . A day's journey. 

Longer journeys are described by the number of days taken 
to perform them. It is impossible to translate these measures 
into terms of miles. Fields vary in length, and a day's 
journey depends on the position of a suitable village or 
stream by which to spend the night. 

Measures of Height. 

Height is always measured with reference to the human 

Langbeutai From the ground to the ankle. 

Ngiaratai From the ground to the middle of the shin bone. 

Pakhutai From the ground to the knee. 

Beuhmiatai From the ground to the middle of the thigh. 

Chaitai . From the ground to the top of the hip. 

Paliatai From the ground to the navel. 

Pathinatai From the ground to the end of the sternum. 

Bakalitai From the ground to the armpit. 

Ngiatlatai From the ground to the top of the shoulder. 

Rotai . From the ground to the neck. 

Pakatai From the ground to the lip. 

Mangkhotai From the ground to the eyes. 

Dangkhi. From the ground to the top of the skull. 

Pazongcha The length of an index finger. 

Titacha . The length of a little finger. 

Measures of Width. 

Zongkha The width of one finger. 

Zongnang The width of two fingers. 

Zongtho The width of three fingers. 

Zongpali The width of four fingers. 

Pazati . The width of the hand laid flat with fingers and thumb close 

together, from the outside of the thumb to the outside 

of the little finger. 
Pazaphia . The width of the two hands placed flat side by side and 

measured as above for the pazati. 

After this the spans and cubits already described under 
measures of length are used. The measurements by finger- 
breadths are used very often to supplement the other 
measures, thus they might say one span and two finger- 
breadths khakha nata zong nang, or a cubit and a hand's 
width, deukha nata pazati. 


Measures of Thickness. 

In measuring the thickness of trees, branches, bamboos, 
and fish the following terms are commonly used : 

Pheipaiti As thick as the calf of a man's leg. 

Bapaiti . Of the size of a man's arm at its thickest point between the 

elbow and the wrist. 

Beupiti . The thickness of a man's thigh. 

Kupili . The thickness of a man's thumb. 

Pazongti The thickness of the index finger. 

Titati . The thickness of a little finger. 

Measures of Area. 

The size of a field or of any given area of land is usually 
expressed in terms of the number of baskets (bai) of paddy 
seed that would be required to plant it. The basket used 
for measuring seed is called a tlabai or a bai. The size of 
the bai used in one village is always the same, but it varies 
slightly in different villages. 

Baikhatu . An area requiring one basket (bai) of seed. 

Bainangtu . An area requiring two baskets of seed. 

Phokhatu . An area requiring a man's load of seed. (One man's load 

is four bais.) 
Phothongtu . An area requiring three loads of seed. 

Larger areas are expressed in terms of the number of 
fields they would contain. 

Pikha . . A ten-field area. 
Pinang . . A twenty -field area. 
Pithong . . A thirty -field area. 


Measures of Capacity. 
Capacity is measured by handfuls and by basketfuls. 

Pazakha One handful. 

Pazapikha Two handfuls. 

Saikhuakha A very small basketful. 

Kachukha A rather larger basketful. 

Baikha . A tlabai full. 

Baikaikha A large basketful. 

Each measure represents the amount that can be held in 
the basket whose name it bears up to a man's load, phokha, 
which is the contents of four bais. The full load is not 
carried in a basket, but in a cotton bag. These bags are 


woven by the women, of a size sufficient to hold the contents 
of four bais. The mouths of the bags are closed with bark 
string or split bamboo ropes. In each village, the chief and 
elders decide the size of each basket to be used for purposes 
of measurement, and in measuring paddy or rice the approved 
size of basket must be used, though the baskets in every-day 
use may be of slightly different sizes, according to the pre- 
ferences of the household. The size of the formal measuring 
baskets varies in the different villages. 

The Lakhers have no weights, and no means of weighing 
anything. Paddy and rice are sold by baskets. Pigs arc 
measured by running a string right round the animal under 
the shoulders, the string is then folded double and the length 
of the doubled string in fists is taken to be the size of the 
animal in fists (so). 1 For measuring salt a section of bamboo, 
the size of which is fixed by the chief and the elders, is used. 
Salt used to be subscribed by the villagers to present to a 
foreign chief visiting the village, and in time of war to give 
to the sentries on outpost duty round the village, and it was 
only on these occasions that the salt measure came into use. 

Gongs of all sorts, brass pots and beer-pots are all 
measured by spans. Gongs, including dawkhang, viadaw, 
dawcliheu, ladaw, are measured in spans round the outer 
circumference. Brass basins called rahong, brass dishes 
called kialiy and iron cauldrons called uka are measured in 
spans round the brim. Racha, longrai, raipi, beirai, raitapa, 
all different kinds of earthenware beer-pots, and the kha- 
beirai, a brass water-pot, are all measured round the middle 
at the widest point. A string is tied round the middle of 
the pot, taken off, and the size of the pot is the length of 
the string in fists. The dawbei, a large brass water- or 
cooking-pot, is measured in spans round its circumference 
at the widest point. 


Mathematics are not a strong point with the Lakher ; he 
is very bad at counting, and when Lakher boys go to school 

1 The Thado use precisely the same standard. J. H. H. 


arithmetic proves a great stumbling-block to them. In this 
the Lakher resembles the Lushei, who is also a poor mathe- 
matician. The commonest way of counting is by tying a 
knot in a piece of thread. If a Lakher wants to remember 
how many days he has worked, he makes a knot each day 
in a piece of string that he keeps in his bag, so as to be able 
to claim the correct wages at the end of his job. Some 
people prefer to count by breaking off little pieces of stick, 
but sticks are apt to be lost. Another method of counting 
is by placing maize seeds in rows of ten. When grain is 
being delivered to a chief's granary in payment of dues, the 
man who is taking over the grain counts up the number of 
baskets delivered by inserting a small stick the size of a 
match in the interstices of the bamboo wall for each basket 
delivered. The highest number spoken of is theukha (ten 
thousand). This term is really merely used to indicate a 
great number, and is indefinite, no Lakher in practice being 
able to count above a hundred, and very few as far as that. 
The term sha, meaning a thousand, is used indefinitely in 
the same way as theukha. In counting up to a hundred 
they place the articles to be counted in tens. In counting 
bamboos the bamboos are laid out in pairs. One pair is 
called bokha, ten pairs are called bohraw, fifteen pairs bohraw 
hlei pangaw, twenty pairs boki. They only count by pairs 
up to forty that is to say, up to twenty pairs. 

Points of the Compass. 

Lakhers have names for the points of the compass. The 
North is Mawla, which probably means the old direction, 
because it is dark and misty. The South is Chhangla. The 
word Chhang means to boil, and so conveys the idea of 
warmth, and so Chhangla means the warm direction. The 
East is Nangchhila, the direction of the sunrise ; the West 
is Nangtlala, the direction of the sunset. Lakhers call the 
Lusheis Maw, because they live to the north of them. 
Another name for the Lusheis is Tlaikopa, or the naked 
people, because they wear no loin-cloths. Lakhers can 
always tell you at once the direction of a given place 




correctly, but most of them cannot explain how they know ; 
they say, " We have always known that the south was over 
there or the west over there, the elders have always told us 
so." Although they cannot explain that they rely on the 
position of the sun for telling direction, they do so in- 
stinctively and without realising the fact, as becomes clear 
when one talks to a Lakher on the subject. 


The Lakhers have no currency of their own. All trans- 
actions were carried out by barter, and all goods were paid 
for in kind. Even now there is very little money in the 
country, but as they came to realise the value of money, 
the objects generally given in payment of marriage prices 
gradually acquired a formal value in rupees. This formal 
value does not necessarily correspond with the market 
value of the article outside the Lakher country, but holds 
good for all transactions among Lakhers. The main trans- 
actions are the payment of marriage prices and fines for 
petty offences, the fine always being paid to the person 
offended against. 

The following list shows the formal prices attached to the 
articles most commonly used in payment of marriage prices, 
fines and other dues : 

Name of Article. 

Size of Article. 


Rs. a. p. 

Cow mithvn. Seipanong . 



Mithun calf. Seitaw 


Bull mithun with entirely clean horns 

Seitongpa . 
M with only three fingers' 


breadth of its horns clean. Seitongpa 


Cow. Viachopanong 


Bull. Viachotongpa. 


She goat. Mipanong 


He goat. Mitongpa. 


Castrated pig. Vothawpa 

Width of body six fists 


9 > . . 






Sow. Vopanong 

five fists 

or more 



,, less than 

five fists 





Name of Article. 

Size of Article. 


Rs. a. p. 

Virgin Sow. Vozeinong . 
Piglet. Votaw 


Bitch. Ipanong .... 


Dog. Itongpa .... 


Puppy. Itaw ..... 


Hen. Awhpanong .... 
Cock. Awhkheupa .... 


Fowl, the size of a crow. Awhraawhtipa 


Pullet. Awhhlonong 


Gong Dawkhang .... 

Circumference ten spans 


> .... 

,, nine ,, 




> .... 



, ,, .... 

six ,, 


Brass basin. Rahong 




,, nine 


> ... 




,, seven ,, 


> > ... 

,, six 


> ... 

,, five ,, 



,, four 


,, three ,, 


Gong. Viadaw .... 

,, five ,, 


f> .... 

,, four ,, 


> .... 

,, three ,, 


> > .... 

,, two ,, 


Brass pot, Dawbei .... 

ten ,, 



,, nine ,, 






,, seven ,, 



,, six ,, 






,, four ,, 



,, three ,, 



,, two ,, 


Pair of small gongs. Dawchheu 



Pair of brass gongs. Ladaw 


Earthen sahma pot. Racha 

Height nine fists 


,, seven ,, 


,, five ,, 


,, Longrai 

,, nine ,, 



,, seven ,, 


Earthen sahma pot. Ifotpt 
Small earthen sahma pot. Raitapa . 



Large bugle. Chiami 


Middle-sized bugle. Chiami 


Small bugle. Chiami 


Iron pot. Uka .... 

Circumference seven spans 


> > .... 








it .... 

,, three 


Brass basin. Kiali .... 





Brass sahma pot. Khabeirai 

Height seven fists 


>t > > 



> > 






Name of Article. 

Size of Article. 




Laikhai . 




MangMi . 

Zaiphei . 


Sisai. Old red beads 

New red beads 
Saka. Woman's metal belt, if old 

if new 

Chaiphiapha, Another kind of woman s 

belt, the price of which varies accord- 
ing to its quality. 

Woman's large brass comb. Hrokei . 
Woman's small brass comb. Hrokei . 
Woman's brass chain-belt. Hrakhaw 
Woman's brass belt. Chongchi 
Haka spear. Hiaka sei 
Ordinary spear. Asei 
Dao. Takong 
Axe. Ahrei . 

Thasong (foreign made) 
Chin knife. Chaizong 
Hoe. Atu 
Pair of brass cymbals. Photla 

> > 

Brass pot with spout. Tikarong cha- 

pawpa. . 
Brass pot without spout. Tikarong 

chanongpa ..... 
Brass triangular gong. Dawkhang 

Us. a. p. 

No price can be given for these 
different kinds of pumtek beads, 
the value of which depends on their 
age and quality. 

R. 1 per string. 

R. 10 per thirty strings. 

R. 1 per belt. 

R. 1 per two belts. 


Five spans 
Three spans 




The price fixed for gongs is the price for gongs with a true 
sound. Gongs with an inferior ring would be priced lower. 

War. Chariachang. 

Before the British appeared in the hills, the Lakher 
villages were constantly fighting with each other and with 
their neighbours. The Tlongsais used to fight with the 
Khumis, Lialais, Eanais, with the Thlatla and Mangthu 
chiefs in Haka and with the three brothers Dokula, Hausata, 
and Vantura, Chins who ruled over the villages on the 
Bualpui range and whose headquarters were at Lungtien. 
On the whole the Tlongsais managed to hold their own. 
Dokula and his brothers tried to make them pay tribute, 


and Hausata came to Saiko demanding it, the Tlongsai 
refused to pay, but gave him enough cotton to make a coat 
and a cloth. Hausata went off home, and sent his brother 
Vantura to see if he could do any better. The Tlongsai, 
however, refused to give Vantura anything, and Vantura, 
in a rage, on his way home seized two Saiko men, Phangngia 
and Laila, who were in their jJium, and tried to carry them 
off as slaves. News of this raid having been taken to Saiko, 
the chief Theulai sent seven young men with guns in pursuit. 
They caught up Vantura and his captives at the junction 
of the Sabri river with the Kolodyne, in the lands of Longtlai 
village. The Saiko braves opened fire, and Vantura was shot 
by Vatlai, the other Saiko braves all missing. Vantura's 
followers abandoned their captives and fled to their village, 
taking with them the wounded Vantura, who died after 
reaching his village. Phangngia and Laila were rescued 
and taken back to Saiko in triumph. 1 To this day no love 
is lost between the Tlongsai and Dokula's descendants, 
though in 1924 Chonghmong, son of Theulai, Chief of Saiko, 
married Dokula's grand-daughter. Mr. Sneyd Hutchinson, 
in An Account of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, describes 
how he was present at Vantura J s death, having been called 
in to see if he could do anything for the wounded man. 
He says, " The dying chief was stretched on the floor in 
front of a blazing fire, his head resting on his wife's lap, 
while I knelt by his side and held his hand in sympathy ; 
the room was crowded with relations and villagers, all 
gazing with wild intentness on their dying chief. Suddenly, 
with a convulsive effort, he raised himself up. I quickly 
slipped my arm as a support behind his back, but it was 
the final struggle with death. The blood spurted forth 
from the wound in his chest, a horrible choking gasp followed, 
and Vantura, the dreaded leader of bloodthirsty raids, fell 
back lifeless in my arms. Immediately the cry went forth, 
' Vantura is dead, Vantura is dead ! ' and was taken up 
throughout the village. The loud wails of women lamenting 
were mixed with hoarse cries for revenge from the men, 
while anon guns were fired into the air to scare away the 
1 Information given me personally by the Saiko elders. N. E. P. 


evil spirits who gathered together to capture the soul of the 
departed chief." Sneyd Hutchinson describes Vantura as a 
Lakher, but he was not, he was a Chin belonging to the clan 
of the Thlatla chief in Haka. 

Thlatla, the village from which Dokula and his brothers 
had migrated to Bualpui, was the most powerful of the Chin 
villages against which the Lakher villages conducted fairly 
constant hostilities. Tlongsais, Hawthais, Sabeus and Zeuh- 
nangs all appear at one time or another to have been at war 
with Thlatla. After many fights peace was made between 
the Tlongsais and Thlatla by the marriage of Theulai, Chief 
of Saiko, to the sister of the Thlatla Chief. 

The most famous raid executed by the Saiko Tlongsais 
was on the Fanai village of Muallianpui, the raiders being 
led by Theulai, then still a young man. The ruler of Mual- 
lianpui was a chieftainess called Darbili, who had just 
brought her people from her old site across the Kolodyne at 
Cherhlun to their present site at Muallianpui. The Fanais 
had not built proper houses, and were living in temporary 
huts, and most of the men had gone to their old village of 
Thingsai for the Chapchar Kut, the feast held as soon as 
the jhums have all been cut ; so actually in Muallianpui 
there were only old men, women and weaklings. Theulai 
sent a party round to cut the cane suspension bridge over 
the Kolodyne, so as to prevent the men from getting back 
and then attacked the village. Many Fanais were killed, 
and the chieftainess Darbili was captured, but released on 
the road between Muallianpui and Pangkhua because she 
was a chief. The Lakhers never knowingly killed a chief 
in war. When Theulai killed Thaka, the Lialai chief, he 
did not know he was a chief, as he found him while he was 
setting traps for deer. 

The chief enemies of the Chap; villages besides Thlatla 
were the villages of Tlari and Ripi, which are also in Haka. 
The Chapi people seem to have fared badly in most of their 
little wars, as after their last war with Tlari they sued for 
peace and paid Tlari a mithun, and on the last occasion that 
they fought with Thlatla and Ripi they had to pay over a 
male slave to ThlatJa, and Rachi, Chief of Chapi, had to 



marry Chiapeu, daughter of the Ripi Chief, for whom he 
had to pay a very high price. The last Chapi men to take 
heads were Dochha and Bihar, who about thirty years ago 
managed to secure two Khumi heads, one of a young man, 
the other of a boy just over the age of puberty. Both 
Dochha and Bihar are still flourishing. 

The hereditary enemies of the Zeuhnang were the Sabeu 
across the Kolodyne. Savang, however, was always a very 
powerful village, and more than held its own. Savang 
braves were also constantly raiding the Khumi villages in 
the Arakan Hill Tracts. 

The prime motive for war among the Lakhers, as among 
more civilised nations, was gain. It was not a question of 
annexing territory, but of obtaining booty in the shape of 
guns, cash, gongs or any other portable articles which 
could be found, and making off with it as fast as possible. 
Slaves, too, were saleable commodities, so captives were 
highly valued, and all the women and boys who were 
caught were carried off as slaves. Though the Lakhers 
are called head-hunters, heads came second to plunder, 
and, indeed, they were never head-hunters, like the Was 
or other tribes who had to take heads to ensure the pros- 
perity of the crops or for other semi-religious purposes. 
The causes of war were desire for gain on the part of 
the elders and hope of glory on the part of the young warriors, 
who longed for a chance of showing their prowess. When a 
warrior slew an enemy in battle he would shout out his 
name, the names of his father and his grandfather, and the 
name of his clan, and would boast of his courage and the 
success of his arms. Another cause, possibly a more potent 
motive than either of the foregoing, but of less frequent 
occurrence, was the death of a chief or member of a royal 
family, as then heads had to be obtained for Machhipaina. 
Machhipaina means literally the preventing of bad dreams. 1 

1 May it not be inferred that the bad dreams were due to the fact that 
the deceased was troubling his relatives on account of their neglect in not 
providing him with attendants ? If so the Garo, Dyak and Lakher 
customs would appear ultimately the same. On this subject generally 
reference may be made to my notes on pp. 78-81 of Shaw's Notes on the 
Thadou Kukia.J. H. H. 


When a death occurs in the chief's family the whole village 
goes into mourning. No drums or gongs can be beaten, and 
every one has to remain quietly in his house. 

To restore happiness to the chief's family and the villagers 
in general, the warriors have to sally forth and collect some 
heads. If they are successful, the heads are brought back 
and placed on the memorial posts of the deceased chief. 
When this duty has been accomplished, the mourning ceases 
and the village resumes its normal life. The last time this 
was done in the Lakher country was by the Zeuhnang in 
1918, when their chief Hmonglai died. The object of taking 
heads on these occasions is purely to restore happiness to 
the living. The people killed are not killed as a sacrifice 
to the soul of the dead chief, their heads are hung up on the 
chief's memorial posts simply to show that Machhipaina 
has been performed. 

The Lusheis also used to take heads when a chief died. 
In 1844 Lalchokla, a Lushei Chief, made a similar raid, and 
took twenty heads, which he placed on the tomb of his 
father, Lassu. 1 Garos, too, used to indulge in the practice. 2 
I questioned an old Garo laskar called Gobang on the 
subject. He told me that when a nokma died a man's head 
was taken, in order that the spirit of the man slain might 
accompany the deceased nokma's spirit to Chitmang, the 
abode of the dead. The name of this sacrifice of a man or 
a bull on the death of a nokma is Mangrechapa, which means 
literally " spirit go with." Usually a lazy thieving slave 
was selected as the victim. Failing a suitable slave, heads 
were collected from the nearest Bengali village in the plains. 
The Garos therefore did not take heads like the Lakhers, to 
end the mourning for a chief, but in order to send some one 
to accompany the chief to the next world. This is like the 
Lakher riha sacrifice of an animal. The Lakhers, however, 
never, at any rate within recent times, sacrificed a man for 

The practice of taking heads to end the period of mourning 

1 (?/, Held, Chin Luahai Land. p. 7, and Woodthorpe. The Luahai Expedi- 
tion, pp. 11-12. N. E. P. 

2 Cf. Playfair, The Garoe, pp. 76-79. N. E. P. 


after a death is also found among the Dyaks. With them, 
however, it is not confined to chiefs, but any Dyak who has 
lost a close relation must remain in mourning till he has 
taken a head. When a Dyak is mourning, he wears only 
clothing made out of bark, all ordinary cloths being tied up 
in a bundle, which is not opened till a head has been taken. 1 
A similar custom is reported from among the Tinguians. 2 

Now that the Lakhers are no longer allowed to take human 
heads, they have to kill a wild animal instead. A bear, a 
wild boar, a tiger or, better still, if it is available, a wild 
mithun, can be shot, and its head takes the place of the 
human head formerly used. 

Until an animal has been killed for Machhipaina the 
mourning for the dead chief continues. The Chief of Saiko 
died in August 1927, and the village was still in mourning 
in March 1928, when the present Chief asked me for per- 
mission to shoot a mithun, and must remain so until an 
animal has been killed for Machhipaina. The mourning is 
strictly observed, any breach of it is regarded as very 
insulting to the late chief and any one breaking the mourn- 
ing by playing on a drum or a gong would be beaten 
by the rest of the villagers. The mourning may even last 
for four years if the villagers are unsuccessful in shooting 
an animal, but after four years the chief's family usually 
decrees that the mourning shall cease. When the wife of 
the late chief of Saiko died, the mourning lasted for two 

Although occasionally women's heads were taken, this was 
only done if a woman happened to have been killed in the 
heat of the fray. If a woman was killed her head was 
taken, and the la ceremony was performed over it in the 
same way as over a man's, but as women are unable to 
defend themselves, it was considered much less honourable 
to kill a woman than a man, and women's heads were not 
deliberately sought for in the same way as men's. Also 
the women, being valuable as slaves, were generally pre- 
served and taken back to the village as the slaves of their 

1 Cf. In Borneo Jungles, by W. O. Krohn. N. E. P. 

2 6/. M. C. Cole, Savage Gentlemen, p. 56. N. E. P. 


captor. Women probably owed their comparative im- 
munity less to the chivalry than to the sound business 
instincts of the people. I have never heard that young 
Lakher warriors were made to taste the blood of an 
enemy killed in war. The example of this quoted by 
Lewin refers to a Lushei of Rottonpuia's village. 1 

It was not obligatory for a village to perform a communal 
sacrifice before going to war, though usually a sacrifice was 
offered to the Khisong nearest to the village. Individuals 
offered sacrifice or not, as they pleased ; some performed 
Khazangpina, some Zangda, while the more impious saved 
their pigs and made no sacrifice. The warriors were not 
obliged to prepare themselves for battle by fasting or 
abstinence from women. On the contrary, I am told that 
the warriors, feeling that their lives might be very short, 
made the most of their opportunities in the short time left 
them before going to war, the young bloods laying vigorous 
Biege to the girls and the married men making the most of 
their wives. The Lakher attitude in these matters bears a 
striking resemblance to the attitude of many persons in 
European countries during the Great War. 2 

The following is an account of the last raid made by the 
Zeuhnang, the story of which was told me by Khangcheh, 
one of the leaders of the raid. As the Savang Chief Hmonglai 
had died, the whole village was in mourning, all music and 
singing were forbidden, and the people had to remain 
quietly in their houses. The new chief and the elders 
therefore decided that a raid must be made for Machhi- 
paina, and this decision being joyfully acclaimed by the young 
men, all preparations were set in train. The women 
pounded rice and baked flat rice cakes for the warriors to 
take with them, they also smoked numberless pipes, so that 
the men should have an ample supply of nicotine-water. 
Gunpowder was made, and as but little gunpowder can be 
made in Savang, as the sheer rock on which the village is 
built does not allow the ingredients to collect, further 

1 Cf. Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, p. 269. N. E. P. 

2 Even plants share it ! If you expose the roots of an orange tree 
threatening it with death, it fruits the more vigorously. J. H. H. 


supplies were brought from Khawbung and Buangthu in 

Before the raiders could start, the omens had to be taken. 
There are two ways of taking the omens. The usual method 
followed is to bring a pot of beer to the place where the 
Tleulia sacrifice is performed. Beer is then sucked through 
the syphon, and if it flows out in a straight stream the omen 
is good ; if, however, it gurgles out slowly, the omen is bad, 
and the raid would be postponed. Another method of con- 
sulting the fates is to take an egg, make a small hole at one 
end of it, and then place it on a fire. The heat causes the 
white of the egg to come out through the hole. If the white 
of the egg stands straight up when it comes out, the omen 
is good. Again, if as the raiders leave the village a bird 
called beupi (Graucalus Macei) flies the way they are going, 
it is a good omen ; if, however, it turns back and flies 
towards the village again, the omen is bad, and though the 
raid will not necessarily be postponed, the raiders feel that 
they will most likely be unlucky. 

The Savang people had recourse to the first method, and 
the omens being favourable, a pig was sacrificed to the 
Khisong, the high cliff above Savang ; final preparations 
were made for the raid and in due course the party set off. 
Usually in Lakher warfare the chief and warriors went ahead, 
and were followed by a crowd of other villagers carrying 
gongs and drums, with which they made an awful din as 
soon as the warriors assaulted the enemy village, in order 
to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. On this 
occasion, however, the unarmed crowd returned to the 
village after seeing the raiders off, and the warriors went 
on their way alone. The raiders carried sufficient rice with 
them to last out the journey, and also flour cakes, in case 
they had to run away and abandon their loads of rice. On 
the occasion of the last Zeuhnang raid the village attacked 
was Teubu, in the Arakan Hill Tracts, about four or five 
days' journey from Savang. The day before the raiders 
started, the village was aoh, and the women were not allowed 
to weave, as the belief is that if the women touch thread on 
the day a party sets out on a raid and the raiders were 


defeated and had to run away, they would be tripped up 
by the creepers and entangled in the thorned canes that 
grow all over the jungle. 1 When they arrived within a 
day's journey of their objective a special meal of rice was 
cooked and eaten, what was left being rolled in plantain 
leaves to carry with them. This meal is called rialooih, and 
is rather like the special breakfast given to a man before he 
is hanged, as the Lakhers say that even if they are destined 
to be killed in the fight, there is no reason why they should 
not have a good meal beforehand. Next morning at dawn 
the leaders called for volunteers to head the attack and each 
man who volunteered had to go out and cut a stick. The 
cutting of these sticks is really a form of oath, 2 and signifies 
that the man who cuts the stick solemnly promises to go in 
the van if there is any fighting, and not to run away and 
leave the old men in the lurch in case of danger. 

This oath by stick-cutting has to be taken in regular form. 
The leaders call out, " Now, oh warriors, let all of you who 
are brave and will not run away come forward and cut 
sticks, and swear not to flee and leave us older men in the 
lurch. If you do not cut sticks according to custom we will 
abandon the raid and return home." On this the young 
warriors all shout out, " So be it. If the battle is fiercest 
in the van we will be in the van, if it is fiercest in the rear 
we will be in the rear." After this each warrior comes 
forward in turn and shouts out his name, the name of his 
father, his grandfather, and of the founder of his family, 
and also the name of his clan. Thus, " I am Chhali, son of 
Vatlai, grandson of Hnaitha, descendant of the great Katha 
of the Mathipi clan." So saying, each in turn cuts a stick, 
and so takes the oath. While advancing towards the 
hostile village these young warriors march in the van. On 
the return journey homeward half of them are in the van, 
while the other half form a rearguard. If one of the young 

1 For similar belief among the Sema Nagas, cf. J. H. Hutton, The Sema 
Nagas, p. 61. Cf. also Frazer, The Golden Bough, Pt. I, Vol. I, p. 131. 
The women of Leti Moa and Laker are forbidden to twine thread or weave 
when their husbands are at war. N. E. P. 

8 This form of oath is common in some parts of the Naga Hills, the 
significance being that if the oath be broken the perjurer will die as the 
cut shoot dies. J. H. H 


men after cutting a stick shows the white feather and fails 
to take his place either in the van or the rearguard, he is not 
formally punished, but is eternally disgraced and treated 
with scorn by his fellow- villagers for the rest of his life. 

To return to the raid on Teubu. The young men having 
all taken the oath, the Zeuhnang proceeded quietly through 
the jungle and approached Teubu at nightfall. Teubu was 
a fortified village, the Khumis, from fear of Lakher raids, 
being in the habit of surrounding their villages with wooden 
stockades and closing the gates at night ; but on this night 
the gates were open, as there had been a death in the village 
and the villagers were carrying water to make rice beer for 
the wake. The Zeuhnang then held a council of war. The 
more impetuous wanted to take their chance at once and to 
assault the village while the gates were open. Others 
urged that they should wait till dawn, and while they were 
arguing the gates were shut, so another way of entering the 
village had to be found, and after going all round the 
stockade they eventually came upon a small gap on a path 
used by the village mithun, by which they entered the 
village. Most of the villagers had collected in the house 
where the wake was being held, and were dancing, drinking 
and singing songs. The Zeuhnang surrounded this house and 
lay hidden all round it, while the Khumis inside were becom- 
ing more and more drunk as the night wore on. Gradually 
the dawn began to break, and as soon as the cocks crew the 
Zeuhnang fired a volley through the walls of the house with 
all their ten guns. Many people fell down killed or wounded, 
and the rest rushed out of the house, and many were caught. 
Altogether eighteen people were killed and thirteen captives 
were taken, of whom ten were women and three were men. 
Two guns were also captured. Before the sun was up the 
Zeuhnang started off on their way home, taking with them 
the guns, all their captives, and four heads only, as they 
could not carry more. They were not pursued, and arrived 
safely back at Savang. As it is ana to enter the village at 
night on returning from a raid, they timed themselves so 
as to arrive at Savang in the morning. As they approached 
the village all the villagers turned out to meet them, beating 


gongs and drums and plying the victorious warriors with 
beer. The heads were taken into the village and placed on 
the ground where the Tleulia sacrifice is performed. 1 It is 
ana to take men's heads inside a house, the reason being 
that as men and tigers have a saw, it is unlucky to take their 
heads inside a house, lest the saw should do harm to the 

The whole day was then spent drinking beer, singing war- 
songs, and dancing the Sawlakia dance round the heads 
taken. At sunset the heads were removed from the Tleulia 
ground and hung on the memorial posts over the late chief 
Hmonglai's grave, and the mourning for Hmonglai came to 
an end. The night was spent in feasting and dancing, and 
each man who had taken a head or made a captive killed a 
pig and performed the la sacrifice, in order to prevent the 
deceased's ghost from troubling him. The whole of the next 
day was spent in feasting. On the third day the whole 
village was aoh, for fear of the saw of the men killed. On 
the fourth day the young men went down to the Tisi river 
to catch fish, which are symbolical of purity, and also to 
bathe so as to cleanse themselves of the saw of the people 
killed. The older men also bathed for the same purpose in 
the stream near the village. This ended the proceedings. 
The Zeuhnang were made to disgorge the captives they had 
taken and to return the heads and the guns by the Deputy- 
Commissioner Arakan Hill Tracts. No other punishment 
appears to have been inflicted, however. During the seven 
months that the heads remained in possession of the Zeuh- 
nang they were left on Hmonglai's grave. 

The aoh held for one day after the la ceremony has been 
performed over the heads taken in war is called sawpana. 
The belief is that the spirits of the persons killed hover 
about the neighbourhood of the village where the la cere- 
mony is held, and are very angry, both at having been killed 
and at having been made to dance at Sawlakia. The day after 

1 Cf. John Rawlins, " On the Manners, Religion and Laws of the Cucis 
or Mountaineers of Tipra," Asiatic Researches, Vol. II, XII. The de- 
scription given of Cuci warfare bears many similarities to the story of the 
Zeuhnang raid on Teubu as told me by Khangcheh and related above. 
N. E. P. 


the la ceremony is therefore aoh, and no one is allowed to go 
out, lest the spirits of the men killed should seize them and 
do them harm. After this sawpana the spirits of the men 
killed are believed to go away. 

The la Ceremony. 

As soon as the warriors have returned from a successful 
raid, all those who have been lucky enough to take an 
enemy's head must perform the la ceremony over it. The 
object of this ceremony is twofold : first to render the 
spirit of the slain, which is called saw, harmless to his slayer, 
and secondly to ensure that the spirit of the slain shall be 
the slave of his slayer in the next world. It is believed that 
unless the la ceremony is performed over the heads of men 
killed in war, their saw will render their slayers blind, lame, 
or paralysed, and that if by any lucky chance a man who 
has omitted to perform the la ceremony escapes these 
evils, they will surely fall upon his children or his grand- 
children. Again, unless the la ceremony is performed, the 
spirits of those slain in war go to a special abode called 
Sawrawkhi, where dwell the spirits of all those who have 
suffered violent deaths, so it is only by performing the la 
ceremony that a man can ensure that the spirit of his dead 
enemy shall accompany him to Athikhi as his slave. 

The ceremonies performed at la vary somewhat. Among 
the Sabeu and the Hawthai heads are never taken into the 
village, and so each man who has taken a head erects a 
bamboo pole in front of his house, and on it places an 
imitation head made out of a gourd. He then sacrifices 
a pig, the flesh being used for a feast for his family and friends, 
and dances round this imitation head. In the other villages 
the head of the man slain is taken to the place where the la 
ceremony is being performed, and the manslayer and his 
friends dance the Sawlakia round and round the head. When 
the real head is used at the ceremony, rice and meat are placed 
in its mouth, in order that the dead man's spirit may not 
wander about on the night of the ceremony, the idea being 
that it will eat its fill of the food and will remain near the 


head. Some people say also that the food is placed in the 
dead man's mouth as a sign of contempt for a fallen foe. 

Three dances are performed at the la ceremony the 
Sawlakia, the Chochhipa and the Dawlakia. The meaning 
of Sawlakia is " the dance of the Spirits of the slain," and 
Lakhers believe that the Spirits of the slain willy nilly have 
to dance round with their slayers. The Sawlakia is led by 
the warrior who has taken a head, wearing his best cloths 
and in his hair a plume of red horsehair called rabong, 
or in some villages chheutlia. 1 In his right hand he holds 
either a gun or a ceremonial dao called vaina, and in his left 
a mithun-hide shield. Behind him follow his friends, also 
dressed in their finest clothes, some carrying weapons and 
others cymbals and gongs. The boys stand in a group, 
beating on drums and blowing bugles. The dancers move 
slowly round, advancing a little, turning first to the right 
and then to the left ; they retreat a step and then advance 
a few steps, and turn to the right and left again, and then, 
retreating and advancing, dance in this way round and round 
the head. As they dance they cut at the air with their 
takong and wave their shields in time with the dance. All 
the while they are dancing they are being plied with beer 
by the women, and when they have danced round the head 
three times they rest. 

The Chochhipa also is danced round and round the head, 
but the step is different. The dancers start by extending 
their arms and swing to the right and then to the left, their 
bodies following round the swing of the arms. They then 
advance at a quicker step than in the Sawlakia, at intervals 
swinging one leg backwards and then advancing again 

The Dawlakia is performed in a squatting position. The 
performers, in the same costumes as in the other dances, 
and carrying vaina, takong, and shields, get down into an 
almost sitting posture and hop round and round the head 
like frogs. After each hop forward a slight turn is made to 
the left and then to the right. This is a very tiring dance, 

1 This is similar to the Lushei chhawndawl. Cf. Shakespear, The Lushei 
Kuki Clans, p. 11. A rabong is shown in the illustration at p. 205. N. E. P. 






and the performers soon get exhausted. During the dances 
the band keeps up a continuous din on gongs, drums, cymbals 
and bugles. Gallons of beer are consumed, and the per- 
formers get worked up into a state of great excitement. 
Each dance has a separate tune, and the rhythm of the gongs 
and drums, which are played louder and faster as the dance 
goes on, undoubtedly has an exciting effect. The Sawlakia 
is common to all the villages. The Chochhipa and Dawlakia 
are performed only in the Chapi group. In Chapi, once they 
have begun dancing the Sawlakia they must continue, and 
dance the Chochhipa and Dawlakia also in succession, as 
they believe that unless the whole series is performed the 
saw of the dead enemy will be able to do them harm ; it is 
essential for all three dances to be performed to render the 
saw innocuous. 

On the night of the la ceremony and all the next day 
dancing, feasting and singing continue. The day after this 
the whole village is aoh, no work is done and no one leaves 
the village. The next day each man who has taken a head 
kills a pig, washes his hands in its blood, and then goes and 
bathes and thoroughly cleanses himself of all bloodstains, 
so that the spirits of the dead shall not be able to recognise 
their slayers. While the la ceremony is in progress the man 
performing it must not sleep with his wife. It is not till he 
has cleansed himself that he can resume conjugal relations. 1 
The belief is that during the la ceremony the spirit of the 
deceased is hovering round, and if it saw the man who had 
slain him sleeping with his wife, it would say, " Ah, you 
prefer women to me," and would inform all the spirits, and 
the man who had done what is forbidden would not be 
allowed to take any more heads. It is also believed that as 
when a man sleeps with his wife he is covered with a woman's 
cloth, the next time he went to war he would get tripped 
up by the spirit of a woman's cloth. 

Among the Tlongsai and the Zeuhnang there is no objection 

1 This was also the case among the Garos, who had to remain chaste 
from the time they set out on the war-path till the end of the ceremonies 
performed after taking a head, as I have been informed by old Garos. 
N. E. P. 


to bringing heads into the village for the la ceremony, but 
in the Sabeu and Hawthai villages it is ana to do so, and 
heads were always hung up outside. 1 In Tisi the heads 
were hung up on a palckai tree (Schima Wallichii) or on a 
pazi tree (Steriospermum chelonoides, D.C.) in the jungle out- 
side the village, and were left there till they fell off and got 
lost. These two trees were selected for hanging the heads 
on for special reasons. The word pazi in Lakher means to 
follow, so it was believed that if the head was hung on a 
pazi tree the spirit of the slain would undoubtedly follow 
the spirit of his slayer as his slave, when the slayer in his 
turn went to the abode of the dead. Another explanation 
given me was that the spirit of the slain would follow the 
tree on which its former head was hanging and would 
remain near the tree and cease to worry its slayer. The 
name pakhai in Lakher means heirloom, hence the tree would 
be an heirloom for the slayer's children, and would never be 
cut. Another explanation for the use of the pakhai tree for 
this purpose was given me in Saiko. If the bark of this 
tree is peeled off it causes an irritating rash on any part of 
the body it touches, so Lakhers believe that the ghost of the 
dead man hovering around the pakhai tree will suffer from 
this rash and go away. This practice is also followed in 
Chapi, in which village the precautions to be observed in 
order to escape being seized by the saw of the men killed 
are somewhat different from those followed in the other 
villages. Immediately on reaching their village after a raid, 
the heads taken by the Sabeu are hung up on a tree, a dog 
is sacrificed by each man who has taken a head, and its 
skull is hung up over the head of the man slain. This 
is a preliminary precaution to prevent the deceased's saw 
from harming the person who killed him, and is part of 
the la ceremony, the idea being that the dog's ghost will 
bark at the deceased's saw, which will then be afraid to 
do any harm. 2 After that the warriors enter the village 
and perform the rest of the la ceremony by sacrificing 

1 So also at Mao. Cf. Hodson, The Naga Tribes of Manipur, p. 175. 
N. E. P. 

8 So, too, the Aos, vide Mills, The Ao Nagas, p. 205. J. H. H. 


a pig and dancing the Sawlakia, CJiochhipa and Dawlakia 
dances round an imitation head. Then in the evening each 
man who has taken a head goes into his house with the 
cook, the sa/&wa-maker, the drummers and the persons who 
played the gongs at the la feast, and they must all remain 
inside the house for five days. During these five days the 
men are allowed to shoot any of the village fowls they like 
with pellet bows, and may eat them. 1 On the morning of 
the sixth day the man who has taken a head rises at 
cockcrow and goes and bathes in the nearest stream. He 
then returns to his house and in front of it plants two chest- 
nut poles. The people who have kept him company inside 
the house during these five days hold on to the chestnut 
poles, and the head-taker says, " The spirit of the man I 
have killed has now departed." A pig is then sacrificed 
and eaten, and the ceremony is finished. The reason why 
the cook, the saftma-maker, the drummer and the gong- 
player are shut up for five days with the head-taker is that 
it is believed that if they go home before the whole ceremony 
is finished they will take the deceased's saw with them and 
will become ill. During these five days it is ana for the 
head-taker to sleep with his wife. If he did so he would 
take no more heads, for the reasons already related. 

A man who has taken a head in war, although by so doing 
he has acquired great renown, is none the less regarded as 
unclean. On his return to the village a head-taker is pana 
until the la ceremony has been performed to lay the danger- 
ous ghost of the man killed, and it is not until a formal 
purification, at which the hands and feet are washed in the 
blood of the pig sacrificed and the whole body is washed in 
water, has been accomplished, that a head-taker resumes 
his ordinary family and social relations. The temporary 
separation of a head-taker from the rest of the community 
is especially marked among the Sabeu, the tribe inhabiting 
the Chapi group of villages. Among this tribe the saw of 
the deceased is regarded as so powerful that it is believed 

1 The villagers allow their fowls to be killed as a reward to the head- 
taker. Among the Lusheis when the body of a dead chief is being desiccated 
by roasting it in a box in front of the fire, the men who perform this un- 
pleasant duty have a similar privilege. N. E. P. 


that it will do harm to all who helped the head-taker to 
perform the la ceremony and to their family unless they 
remain with him apart until the saw has been finally laid and 
the head-taker cleansed. All Lakhers, however, share the 
same belief, as witness the aoh held at Savang on the fourth 
day after the return of the head-takers, but the ceremonies 
in other villages are less elaborate than among the Sabeu. 
It is not only men who have taken heads in war who are 
bound to cleanse and purify themselves, murderers also are 
under the same obligation. Although head-taking on a raid 
is meritorious, while murder is regarded as a social sin, it 
makes no difference to the fact that after taking human life 
a man must purify himself. As will be seen further on, 
however, even after purification a murderer labours under 
certain social disadvantages, but a head-taker does not. 


When a village wanted to sue for peace an ambassador 
(leuchapa) was sent to ask for peace and to arrange terms. 
A man from a friendly neutral village was usually employed 
as ambassador, if possible the chief or a leading noble. The 
village employing a leuchapa always promised to pay him 
a certain sum as soon as he had arranged matters. The 
leuchapa having settled the terms of peace and the amount 
to be paid by the defeated to the victorious village, some 
elders from the defeated village accompanied the leuchapa 
to the victorious village and paid over part of the fine. A 
mithun or a pig was then killed, its blood was smeared on 
the foreheads of representatives of the two villages, and they 
took a solemn oath of peace, each saying, " If we start 
hostilities afresh first, may the blood flow from our foreheads 
in the same way as the blood of the animal sacrificed has 
flowed to-day." * 

When Ngongthaw was chief of Savang, the Zeuhnang were 
defeated by the Sabeu, and had to pay the Sabeu chief a 
gong and a mithun when peace was made. Sometimes 

1 For the oath taken by Chins when making peace, cf. A. S. Reid, Chin' 
Lushai Land, pp. 135, 136, 156, 157, and for the Lushei form of oath. 
C/. ibidem, p. 214. N. E. P. 


instead of paying an indemnity the chief of the defeated 
village offered to marry the sister or daughter of his con- 
queror, and as chiefs found it by no means easy to settle 
their female relatives in life, owing to the heavy marriage 
prices demanded, such a proposal was generally readily 
accepted. Thus, when Theulai was chief of Saiko, the 
Tlongsai were constantly at war with Thlatla, and not 
infrequently were worsted. On one occasion they had to 
pay a gong to Thlatla ; on another occasion they had to 
pay a bull mitlmn to Dokula, a dependant of Thlatla. Even- 
tually Theulai married Hleuchi, sister of Lalluaia, chief of 
Thlatla, and after this there were no more wars between the 
Tlongsai and Thlatla. When Vabi was chief of Chapi, he 
carried on an unsuccessful war with Haka, and after paying 
a large brass basin (rahong) to Haka on one occasion when 
he was defeated, the next time he was defeated he 
married the daughter of the Haka chief and made a lasting 
peace. The present chief, Rachi, had to marry his wife, 
the daughter of the Bipi chief, as the result of a defeat 
in war. These matrimonial alliances between royal houses 
contracted to cement a peace between two warring tribes 
have quite a mediaeval flavour. The peace ceremony 
between Savang and Teubu in 1918, after the Zeuhnang 
had raided the latter village and killed and taken into 
captivity a number of the villagers, was actually witnessed 
by Mr. Thorn, who was then Deputy-Commissioner 
Northern Arakan, from whose account the following 
description is drawn. 1 

" Shortly after my arrival, at about midday, an unusually 
interesting although somewhat gruesome and cruel cleaning 
ceremony was performed in my presence. It was explained 
to me that as blood had been shed by one of the parties 
present, viz. the Shandus of Zongling, it was necessary for 
the chief of that village and the successor of the late Taungbo 
chief to meet face to face and stab together fatally and 
simultaneously a pig held between them, and finally wipe 

1 Letter No. 147/2 V-2 from the Deputy-Commissioner Northern 
Arakan to the Commissioner, Arakan Division, Akyab, dated Paletwa, 
the 15th May, 1918. N. E. P. 


their respective bloodstained knives on each other's naked 

" I permitted the ceremony to take place, standing close 
by with a revolver, in case the matter should go further 
than the pig. It must have been a great trial for Taungbo 
whilst it lasted, but he went through the ordeal manfully 
enough, wearing a dignified disdainful scowl the while. 
Immediately after the pig had been killed and thrown on 
to the ground, there was a general rush by the people to 
the spot to stamp their feet in the blood of the animal, thus 
in their imaginations freeing themselves of any possibility 
of being overtaken by any form of sickness or death or evil 
subsequently. The stamping went on for quite half an hour, 
both sexes joining in vehemently." 

Mr. Thorn was very fortunate in having the chance to see 
what was probably the last formal peace-making between 
two Lakher villages. I do not think that Mr. Thorn is 
right in ascribing the rush of the people to stamp their feet 
in the pig's blood to their desire to avoid any danger of 
sickness. I think that the stamping of the feet in the blood 
of the sacrifice was really a form of oath taken by the 
villagers on both sides, and equivalent to the action of the 
chiefs in wiping their bloodstained daos on each other's 
body. As they bathed their feet in the blood they said, 
"If we break this oath of friendship may our blood flow 
in the same way as the blood of the pig sacrificed." This 
is the explanation given me in Savang and the other Lakher 
villages, and is, I think, without doubt correct. Apart 
from anything else, there would be no reason for the people 
to lave their feet in the pig's blood to escape sickness, as the 
pig was not sacrificed to prevent people from becoming ill, 
but as a token of reconciliation, and the Lakhers have 
other special sacrifices for the prevention of sickness, which 
in no way resemble the ceremony described. 

Though a leuchapa wore no distinguishing insignia, his 
person was sacred, and he could go unmolested wherever 
he liked. If a leuchapa were molested, the village on behalf 
of which he was acting and his own village would join 
together and attack the village that had interfered with 


him. It was probably in order to ensure that leuchapas should 
not be molested that they were always chosen from a 
neutral village. 


There is practically nothing to show that the Lakhers 
were ever addicted to cannibalism. It is believed that if a 
consumptive goes on a raid and manages to take a head and 
eat a small portion of the ear of the man he has killed he 
will be cured. One Hrichai of Saiko who was suffering from 
consumption went on a raid, took a head and ate a bit of 
his dead enemy's ear. 1 Hrichai is said to have been cured 
by this unpleasant medicine, which he was the first to 
discover. Prior to this, Hrichai had been very ill, and had 
despaired of his life. He went off to the jungle towards 
Arakan, thinking to die there, but shot two sambhur and 
survived. He then went on a raid against the Lialai, and 
took the head which led to his cure. 

There is a legend that many years ago the Lakher village 
of Heima was raided by the Lusheis of Lalthuama's village. 
The Heima people fled to the jungle, leaving their village 
in the hands of the Lusheis. The Lusheis took a large 
cooking-pot, placed at the bottom of it the hand of one of 
the Heima people who had been slain, and then mixed up 
in it pork and human flesh taken from the bodies of the dead 
Lakhers. Having put this pot on the fire to cook, the 
Lusheis left the village. The Heima people, returning very 
hungry from the jungle, where they had been hiding, found 
this cauldron of what appeared to be pork sizzling on the 
fire. With one accord they set to and made short work of 
the pork, and it was not till they reached the bottom and 
found the human hand that they realised that they had been 
eating the flesh of their own friends, who had been killed by 
the Lusheis. As soon as the hand was discovered they 
stopped eating the meat, and as they had only partaken of 

1 Cf. Hose and McDougall, Pagan Tribes of Borneo, Vol. II, p. 9 n, and 
Vol. I, p. 175, w. a , and my note on the eating of Dead Relatives in Folk- 
Lore, Vol. XXXIV, p. 245, and on p. 80 of Shaw's Notes on the Thadou 
Kukia.J. H. H. 


human flesh by accident they were not thought any the 
worse of on that account. This is the only tradition about 
cannibalism that I have found. 


Raids were made almost as much to get captives for slaves 
as to take heads. The first captive made by each warrior 
became the property of the chief and village, and was known 
as seuchhai. These captives were used to present as slaves 
to the chiefs of more powerful villages, in order to induce 
them not to raid. If a man made more than one captive, 
all, except the first which went to the village, became his 
slaves, but any one who had made no captives could take 
one for himself, provided that he did so before their captor 
had been able to secure them. Once they had been tied up 
the prisoners belonged definitely to the man who had first 
captured them. A captive thus seized from his captor 
was called chahlai. Captives were regarded in much the 
same way as men slain in battle, and the la ceremony was 
performed over them also. The object was to render the 
captive's saw, which was called hrangsaw, harmless, and also 
to advertise the mighty deeds of his captor. Unless the la 
ceremony was performed it was believed that the captive's 
hrangsaw would render his captor blind or lame, or it might 
even paralyse him. None of the food or drink prepared for 
the la ceremony might be given to the captives in any of the 
Tlongsai, Hawthai or Sabeu villages, as it was believed that 
the captives would die prematurely if given any of the food 
prepared for the la feast. The Zeuhnang do not share this 
belief, and have no objection to the captive over whom the 
ceremony is being performed having a share of the food. 
On the eve of performing the la ceremony over a captive, 
the captor must remain chaste ; it is believed that if he 
sleeps with his wife that night he will neither take any more 
heads not any more captives. 

When a captive first arrived at his captor's village one of 
his legs was placed in a sort of stock called keihrai, made 
out of a heavy log of wood. A hole was made at one end of 


the log large enough to admit a man's foot ; the prisoner's 
foot was passed through this hole and enclosed by a large 
iron nail, which prevented it being taken out again. A cane 
was attached to the back of the log to enable the captive 
to hold it up when he wanted to move about, which he could 
do slowly only, it being quite impossible for any one to 
escape with a large log at the end of his foot. A prisoner 
was confined in this way for a week or ten days, to give him 
time to settle down, and was then released. Nowadays 
keihrai are used to confine violent lunatics. It is certainly 
a more humane method of confinement than any other that 
would be possible in a Lakher village, as the lunatic can 
move about and get the air, but cannot harm any one. 


In the old days slavery was common among the Lakhers. 
There were many ways in which the chief and nobles 
acquired slaves. The most ordinary way of acquiring them 
was by capture in war, and even common people were 
allowed to keep as slaves any captives they made after the 
first man they had captured had been handed over to the 
villagers. The chief and nobles could also acquire slaves by 
other means. Supposing the chief of Savang were owed 
money by a man living in Saiko and came to claim it, the 
debtor could claim sanctuary from the Saiko chief by taking 
refuge in his house. When a man took sanctuary in this 
way in his chief's house, his chief would pay the debt to the 
foreign chief, and the debtor became his slave. Sanctuary 
was not infrequently taken, as a man would generally rather 
be the slave of his own chief than be carried off as a slave 
to another village. 

If a chief or noble brought up an orphan belonging to 
another clan from childhood, the orphan became the slave 
of the man who brought him up. It was not possible for 
a man to enslave an orphan belonging to his own clan in 
this way, as fellow-clansmen were regarded as having duties 
to each other, and any one who supported an orphan belong- 
ing to his own clan was only considered to be fulfilling an 


Slaves could be acquired as part of a marriage price and 
also by purchase. When a famine occurred people often 
had to go to the chief for help. The chief would give them 
paddy, and when this was exhausted they had no option 
but to enter the chief's house and become his slaves. Any 
one stealing from the chief became his slave. If any one 
killed one of the chief's slaves, he and his family ipso facto 
became slaves. If a man committed a murder and the chief 
paid the luteu, he became the chief's slave. There were two 
kinds of slaves the sei, a slave who lived in the chief's 
house, and the saiza, or slave who lived in his own house. 
The saiza were usually favourite slaves of a chief, who, after 
having worked faithfully for years, had been rewarded by 
being allowed to live in a separate house. Both sei and 
saiza were absolutely at the disposal of the chief, but the 
saiza had a better position and rather more independence 
than the sei ; a saiza, for instance, was allowed to keep all 
his own paddy, but was expected to help the chief should 
the latter need it. 

On the whole slaves were not treated badly. They were 
regarded as part of the chief's family, and as such had con- 
siderable privileges, as the chief would always take the part 
of his slaves against any one else. To a modified extent 
slaves could own property. The slave's crop was divided 
between him and his chief. Sometimes the chief and his 
slaves kept all their paddy together in one granary and drew 
on it according to their requirements, sometimes the slave 
kept half his crop separately for his own use, and gave the 
other half to the chief. Slaves could own pigs, goats and 
fowls, but not mithun, but the chief was at liberty to take 
any of their animals if he wanted to, and paid them back 
later on or not as he liked. When the chief's sister or 
daughter married, his favourite slave was given a part 
of her price, which was called Seipawcheu, and for this 
the slave had to kill a pig to give to the payer of thfr 
price, in the same way as any one else claiming part of the 
marriage price. 

As the slaves were part of th chief's family, the chief 
had to buy wives for his male slaves, or, if he preferred, 


would marry them to his female slaves, in which case no 
money passed for the price, as both belonged to the chief. 
When a chief bought a wife for one of his male slaves the 
woman did not herself become a slave, but her children were 
all slaves. If any of his slaves committed an offence and 
was fined, the chief had to pay the fine. 

Female slaves were not as a rule allowed to marry any 
one except a male slave, as if a female slave married a free- 
man who paid her full price to the chief her offspring were 
free, and the chief had no claim on them. Such marriages 
were only allowed if the suitor gave the owner of the woman 
he wanted to marry another female slave of equal value as 
ransom (sokhaipari). Slave girls were, however, encouraged 
to have as many love affairs as possible with the lads of the 
village, as the offspring of such unions became slaves, and 
so were a clear gain to the chief ; the more bastards a girl 
had the better pleased the chief, as fiis stock of slaves was 
most easily kept up in this way. If a freeman became the 
father of a bastard by a girl slave he could ransom it while 
it was still a child with two gongs of seven and eight spans, 
plus a pig for awrua and ten rupees for awruabauma. If, 
however, a man did not ransom his bastard till it had grown 
up, he had to pay three gongs of six, seven and eight spans 
respectively, plus a pig for awrua and ten rupees awrua- 
banma. More often than not the fathers did not ransom 
their bastards, but left them to grow up as slaves, and 
as a rule, indeed, chiefs would not allow bastards to be 

When a bastard was the result of a love affair between a 
male slave and a free girl, if the chief paid the riathama or 
bastard's price the child became a slave, if not it belonged to 
its mother's people. Although slaves could be bought and 
sold, as a rule chiefs only sold slaves newly acquired by 
capture or those who were disobedient and lazy. Old family 
retainers were never sold or given away. Slaves with families, 
too, were not as a rule disposed of, so as to avoid splitting 
up a family. 

Before the Lakher villages were taken over, it was a case 
of once a slave always a slave. The children of slaves were 


also slaves, and it was only on rare occasions that an owner 
would give a slave freedom. Fathers never sold their 
children into slavery, and any one attempting to sell his 
child would have committed a grave breach of custom. 

Female slaves were more valuable than male slaves, as, 
in addition to being able to do all ordinary work, they were 
of great value for breeding purposes, and were more docile 
and less prone to run away than the men, who not only 
required more looking after, but also had to be provided 
with wives. The price of a good male slave was 170 to 180 
rupees, while healthy young female slaves easily fetched 
200 rupees, or if sold to the Khumis, who gave high prices 
for slaves, even as much as 300 rupees. If given as part of 
a marriage price the value of a slave, whether male or female, 
was assessed at 100 rupees. When a slave shot a wild 
anima], it went to his owner, who also took the head, and 
treated it as though he had shot it himself. Slaves did all 
the work of their owner's household, and also a great deal 
of work for him in the fields. It is curious to find, however, 
that although they had many slaves, most of the Lakher 
chiefs worked in their own fields, and did not leave every- 
thing to the slaves, as the Lushei chiefs did. If a slave ran 
away and was recaptured, he was sold or given away as part 
of a marriage price at the earliest opportunity. Though the 
Lakhers assert that they never sacrificed slaves as riha on 
the death of their master, there is a more or less legendary 
story that on the death of a man called Dawma of the 
Hleuchhang clan a slave was used for his riha, being buried 
alive in the same grave as his master. The story goes that 
the slave was buried alive with a certain amount of food and 
drink and a gong, and was told to beat on the gong as long 
as he was alive. Dawma's relations ran a bamboo down 
into the grave, and could hear the slave beating on the gong 
for nine days, after which there was silence. Though it 
must be a long time since slaves were sacrificed as riha, the 
Chapi people have a similar legend of a slave having been 
buried alive many years ago with a chief called Bero, of the 
Phiapi clan, which at that time lived at Chakhang. Legends 
are often based on fact, and I think it is quite probable that 


at one time the sacrifice of slaves as riha to accompany their 
masters to the next world was common among Lakhers. 
The chiefs and other slave-owners had power of life and 
death over their slaves. The last occasion on which a slave 
was murdered was somewhere about twenty years ago, when 
a slave called Raiong, who had run away from Savang, was 
caught in Paitha village by a party of Savang people and 
taken away and murdered by Bawpu and Ngiachhong on 
the road back to Savang. Ngiachhong was Raiong's owner, 
and he hanged him with a cane rope. Though the murder 
of slaves was comparatively rare, they were frequently 
severely beaten. 

If a chief's slave was killed by a free man, the murderer 
had either to pay the chief 200 rupees as luteu, or became a 
slave himself. 

It not infrequently happens that people who have been 
slaves for some generations do not know to what clan they 
belong. Such people when freed generally adopt the chief's 
clan as their own and the chief's Khazangpina ceremonial. 
The chiefs do not object to this, and address their former 
slaves as " my brother." Liberated slaves who adopt their 
chief's clan in this way are known as phanghleupa ; they 
use the name and are regarded as associates of their adopted 
clan, but not as full members, and cannot touch the anah- 
mang or phavaw when a full member of the clan performs a 

Slavery among the Lakhers undoubtedly approximated 
more closely to what is generally connoted by the word 
slavery than did the Lushei bawi system. 1 The Lushei bawi 
was never a slave, he was only a chief's dependent ; he was 
never sold and the relationship between him and his chief 
was one of mutual help. Among the Lusheis, only chiefs 
could have bawis ; among the Lakhers, chiefs, nobles and 
any one who made captives in war could own slaves. The 
Lakher slave was the counterpart of the Lushei sal, 2 a captive 
made in war who was the personal property of his captor ; 
but even these sal seem to have been much better treated 

1 Cf. Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 46 et seq. and p. 216. 

2 Cf. Shakespear, op cit., p. 50. N. E. P. 


than the sei (slaves) were treated by the Lakhers, whose 
behaviour to their slaves resembled that of the Chins rather 
than that of the Lusheis. Now that there are no longer any 
independent Lakher villages left, the position of the few sei 
who have chosen to remain with their chiefs is the same as 
that of the Lushei bawi, and slavery has ceased to exist 
among the Lakhers. 



Tribal and Clan Organisation. 

THE Lakhers consist of six groups : the Tlongsai, Hawthai, 
Zeuhnang, Sabeu, Lialai and Heima. The groups are 
further subdivided into clans. The highest clans are the 
royal clans ; after them come the noble or phangsang clans, 
and at the bottom the machhi or common people's clans. 
The Saiko branch of the Tlongsais are ruled by chiefs of the 
Hleuchhang clan, the Siaha Tlongsais by chiefs of the 
Khichha Hleuchhang clan. The Zeuhnang royal clan is 
the Bonghia, the Hawthai royal clan is the Nonghrang ; the 
Sabeu royal clan is the Changza, which clan also gives chiefs 
to the Lialai and the Heima groups. 

Each group speaks a dialect of its own, but they can all 
understand each other. The dialects are less dissimilar 
than those of Aberdeen and Somerset, and all the groups 
recognise that they are Maras or Lakhers. 

When, with the growth of population, the land within 
reasonable reach of a village proves insufficient for its needs, 
the custom is for a chief to send off one of his sons or a 
brother to form a new village in some distant part of his 
lands. Owing to the security which exists under British 
rule, this process has gone much further in the old adminis- 
tered area than in the area which has only recently been 
taken over, as under British rule it is not necessary to 
concentrate in large villages for purposes of defence. Thus 
the Hleuchhang chiefs now rule over Amongbeu, Theiva, 
Longba, Tongkolong, Longmasu, Paitha, Longphia and 
Saizawh, as well as over the parent village Saiko ; the 
Khichha Hleuchhang chiefs rule over Thiahra-Amongbeu, 
Tisongpi, Thiahra and Thangsai, as well as over Siaha the 



parent village. All these Tlongsai villages use the same 
dialect, but the customs of the Siaha Tlongsais differ in 
certain small details from those followed by the Saiko 
Tlongsais. The Zeuhnangs, who till recently were 
unadministered, have not spread out in the same way. 
Formerly all the Zeuhnang villages were ruled over by the 
Savang chief, and the bulk of the people were concentrated 
in Savang, as they still are, as a matter of fact ; but the 
Savang chief Taiveu has now given two villages, Laki and 
Laikei, to his second son, Hniachai, keeping for himself 
Savang, Khongpai and Chheihlu. All the Zeuhnang villages 
speak the Zeuhnang language and are governed by Zeuhnang 
custom, as is the small village of Vahia, ruled over by an 
old chaprassi called Deutha, of non-royal clan. The Sabeu 
villages in the Lushai Hills are Chapi, Chakhang and Mawhreu, 
and are ruled by Changza chiefs. There are several Sabeu 
villages in Haka, also ruled by Changzas, the most important 
Changza chiefs in Haka being Vasai of Khihlong, Sabeukhi, 
and Hlongma and Vahu of Ngiaphia. The Changzas are a 
very powerful clan. Their rule, although decidedly more 
despotic than that of the other ruling clans, seems to be 
on the whole just, as well as firm, with the result that their 
villages are the least litigious of all. The Sabeu villages all 
speak the Sabeu dialect and are governed by Sabeu custom. 

The smallest of the Lakher groups in the Lushai Hills is 
the Hawthai, whose chief belongs to the Nonghrang clan. 
Only Tisi village is ruled by a Nonghrang chief ; there are 
many Hawthais in Chholong, Nangotla and Longbong who 
talk the Hawthai dialect and follow Hawthai custom, but the 
chief is a Poi. Theiri is a Hawthai village under a Tlongsai 
chief. Muabu is also a Hawthai village, and the chief, 
Chiatheu, is a Hawthai of the Nongthlia clan, which is not a 
royal clan. In Haka there are two Hawthai villages, both 
called Longchei, ruled over by a Chhachhai chief. The 
Chhachhai is a royal clan. The Heima and Lialai groups, 
which are closely akin to the Sabeu, are found in the Chin 
Hills and Arakan, and are ruled by Changza chiefs. 

Mistakes have been made in the past in the alienation of 
tribal lands. A large slice of Tlongsai land in the heart 



of the Lakher country at Tuipang was given to a Chin, a 
descendant through a concubine of Dokula, the greatest 
enemy of the Lakhers. This caused considerable resentment 
among the Lakhers, which still rankles. Another stretch of 
Tlongsai land was given to a nephew of Dokula's. Part of 
this has now been restored to its rightful owner, but a con- 
siderable area is still in alien hands. Other Tlongsai lands 
and some Zeuhnang lands were alienated to establish two 
villages called Kiasi and Vahia. The population of Kiasi, and 
also the chief, belong to the Siaha branch of the Tlongsais. 
The people of Vahia are all Zeuhnangs except the chief, who 
is a Siaha Tlongsai. Neither of these commoner chiefs com- 
mands the same respect as a chief of royal blood, and as a 
result neither village is well run. It is a mistake to 
appoint such men as chiefs, it is contrary to custom, and 
these mushroom chiefs, lacking the traditions of the chief 
by birth, and unaccustomed to rule, are unable to keep their 
subjects in order. I have noticed the same thing among 
the Lusheis, whose legitimate chiefs all belong to the Sailo 
clan. Sailo villages are infinitely better governed than 
those in which the chief is a commoner appointed by 
Government as a reward for services rendered. The gift 
of a village is an easy means of rewarding the deserving, 
but the appointment of commoner chiefs has never proved 
to be for the benefit of the people or conducive to good 


A list of the principal Lakher clans is given in Appendix I. 
The clans have been arranged according to precedence : 
first, royal clans ; secondly, patrician clans ; thirdly, 
plebeian clans. Each clan is said to have taken the name 
of its earliest ancestor, though they originated so long ago 
that it is impossible to trace back to the founder. Most 
of the clans are found among all the different groups, 
though a few of the numerically weaker clans exist only in 
certain villages. 

The story goes, that when first men came out of the hole 


in the earth, all were equal, but in a short time the cleverer 
men became chiefs and nobles and ruled over the less 
intelligent and energetic, who became the lower orders, and 
are now known as machhi. 

For all public purposes, whether of a civil or a religious 
nature, the tribal unit is the village rather than the clan. 
It is in connection with marriages, births, deaths and certain 
sacrifices of a private nature that the clan assumes im- 
portance. It is ana for any person belonging to another 
clan to take part in the Khazangpina and Zangda sacrifices ; 
if such an event occurred the sacrifice would be valueless. 
It is ana for any one of another clan to take part in Parihri- 
sang, a sacrifice offered in cases of sickness, as, if such a 
person took part, he would be liable to become ill. It is not 
definitely ana for other clansmen to take part in any of the 
other sacrifices, but actually they never do so. A clansman 
in distress can count on help from his fellows, and in cases 
of unnatural death, which are greatly feared by the Lakhers, 
it is the dead man's clansmen who handle the corpse. 

Before the Lakhers came under British rule, when a man 
was captured in war his clansmen all subscribed to ransom 
him. Nowadays one of the chief ways in which clansmen 
help each other is by contributing towards the payment of 
a marriage price. Presents of meat are often given after a 
successful shoot, and in case of illness help is readily extended. 
All such help between clansmen is voluntary, and if two 
persons are on bad terms they would not be expected to 
help each other. 

There is no bar to marrying within the clan, and it is not 
ana to do so ; actually, however, marriages within the clan 
seem the less frequent, so that though Lakhers tell one that 
they can marry within or without the clan as they please, 
it seems probable that formerly an exogamous system was 
in vogue. 

Chiefs and wealthy nobles prefer to take their wives from 
villages other than their own, as thereby they acquire 
influence in another village, and so indirectly improve their 
position in their own. 

There is a sharp division in Lakher villages between the 


nobles and the lower classes. Clans descended from men 
who were friends of chiefs in the old days are phangsang or 
patrician, and families belonging to these clans are more 
highly thought of, and are usually better off materially, 
than machhi or plebeian families. Noble birth is very 
highly esteemed, and the amount of a girl's marriage price 
theoretically depends on her clan, the rate for girls of noble 
birth being considerably higher than that for girls of baser 
lineage. Here a difficulty arises, as, although a man can 
never change his clan, his daughter's marriage price may be 
of a higher rate than his ordinary clan rate, if his wife, his 
mother, and grandmother have belonged to higher clans 
than his own. While all Lakhers know quite well whether 
their clan is phangsang or machhi, as the marriage price of a 
girl may be higher than her clan rate if her maternal 
ancestors for three generations have belonged to higher 
clans, the rate can only be decided after most careful confabu- 
lation by the village elders, and, as Lakhers are snobbishly 
inclined, this is not a matter that can be lightly disposed of. 
The great aim of every Lakher is to raise his status in society 
by marrying a girl from a higher clan than his own, as 
thereby he gains the protection of his wife's more powerful 
and influential relations. It is doubtless this competition 
for high-born brides that has led to the very high marriage 
prices in vogue. 

There are only four clans which appear to have any sort 
of totemistic origin : the Bonghia, the Thleutha, the 
Hnaihleu and the Mihlong. 1 

The origin of the Bonghia and Thleutha clans of Savang 
is the same, both claiming descent from a python. The 
story is that many years ago there was a girl called Pithlong, 
who was employed as a priestess for performing sacrifices 
to the Khisong, the abode of evil spirits. As she held a 
priestly office, this girl had to remain a virgin. One night, 
however, a python came to the place where Pithlong was 
sleeping, and, assuming human form, had connection with 
her. In due course Pithlong gave birth to a son, Bonghia, 

1 With regard to the tiger, python and hornbill, cf. The Sema Nagaa, 
pp. 128 et seq.J. H. H. 


who founded the Savang chief's family. After Bonghia's 
birth, Pithlong again had connection with the snake, and a 
second son, named Thleutha, was born. Thleutha also 
founded a clan. The Thleutha clan, though of noble birth, 
has never been a ruling house. Both the Bonghia and the 
Thleutha clans are snake clans. It is ana or forbidden for 
them to kill or even to touch a python, and they believe 
that if any member of their clans killed or even touched a 
python he would die. They regard the python, or Paripi, 
as they call it, as a good spirit, and as the special protector 
of all members of the Bonghia and Thleutha clans. 1 

The Hnaihleu clan of Saiko is a tiger clan ; all members 
of it show special reverence to tigers, and it is ana for them 
to do any injury to a tiger. The story of the origin of the 
clan is as follows. 

The founder of the tiger clan was a man called Hnaihleu, 
whose name the clan still bears. This Hnaihleu was a great 
friend of a tiger called Nangtha. Nangtha used to warn 
his friend whenever tigers were going to kill the village 
cattle, and consequently Hnaihleu always managed to save 
his animals. In gratitude for the benefits conferred on him 
by the tiger Nangtha, Hnaihleu laid down that none of his 
descendants must ever kill a tiger, ever look at a tiger that 
had been killed, or ever take part in the la feast, which is 
performed when a man has killed a tiger. These prohibi- 
tions are observed to this day by all members of the Hnaihleu 
clan, and it is ana for them to break them. In addition to 
this, the Hnaihleu clan periodically perform a sacrifice to 
the tiger, which is called Nangtha Hawkhei.% 

This sacrifice is curious, as the sacred anahmang vessels 
which are reserved for Khazangpina are brought out and 
used for it. As these vessels are* regarded as extremely 
sacred, their use in this sacrifice indicates the degree of 
veneration felt by the Hnaihleu clan for the tiger, whom 
they treat as being practically on a level with Khazangpa. 

1 The Manipuri Royal House is said to be descended from a snake. 
Cf. The Meitheis, by T. C. Hodson, pp. 5, 100 and 101 ; also William Shaw, 
The Thadou Kukis, pp. 47, 48. N. E. P. 

a Annamites also sacrifice to the tiger. Cf. E. Langlet, Le Peuple 
Annamite, p. 76. N. E. P. 


The sacrifice is performed on the road outside the village. 
A space is fenced in on the road, and the anahmang belonging 
to the man selected to perform the sacrifice are placed 
between this fence and the village. The clan select one of their 
number who is ceremonially pure to perform the sacrifice, 
and he kills the pig near the anahmang. Each household 
provides two cakes of flour, which are brought to the place 
of sacrifice in baskets. One cake is to be given to the tiger, 
and one is to be eaten by the people who made it. The pig 
is cooked, its phavaw and head being cooked separately, and 
the phavaw are placed on the anahmang, as at Khazangpina. 
The pork is eaten on the spot, and one or two pots of sahma 
are drunk. The pig's head can be eaten only by members 
of the Hnaihleu clan ; the rest of the meat may be eaten 
by any one. In the evening the cakes and a little meat are 
placed on plaintain leaves outside the fence for the tiger to 
eat. Next morning the cakes are examined, and if the tiger 
has accepted the offering and eaten any of the cakes and 
meat, it is thought to be very lucky. If, however, there 
are tiger tracks round the spot and the cakes and meat have 
been left untouched, it portends ill luck. The clan are 
pana from the time of the sacrifice till dawn next day. 
Sometimes when tigers have been making a serious nuisance 
of themselves, and damaging the cattle, the whole village 
agrees to assist the Hnaihleu clan in performing the sacrifice. 
Even then the actual sacrifice must be performed by a 
Hnaihleu, no one belonging to another clan being qualified 
to act as sacrificer. 

As the Hnaihleus have a great reverence for the tiger, any 
one taking a tiger's head into a Hnaihleu's house is fined a 
pig of five fists. 1 Some six years ago the Nangtha Hawkei 
sacrifice was performed by Hlitha on behalf of the Hnaihleu 
clan ; when they examined the flour cakes and meat next 
morning they found that some of them had been eaten by a 
tiger. Having inspected the sacrifice, Hlitha had to observe 
the rest of the day as an aoh and to remain in his house. 
About 3 p.m. on that day Vanhnuna, the son of a Lushei 
chaprassi, saw a tiger on the slope below Hlitha's house ; he 

1 See explanation of measurements by fists at p. 198. N. E. P. 


called his father Bawktea, who came with his gun and fired 
at the tiger, but missed. Bawktea was certain he had fired 
at a tiger, but neither tiger's tracks nor any blood could 
be found. Hlitha, on being told what had happened, said 
that the tiger must have been Nangtha, who was watching 
him to see if he was observing the aoh properly. The Fanais 
also do not kill tigers, as an ancestor of that tribe was once 
helped by a tiger, who showed him the way home when he 
had lost his way. 1 

The Mihlong clan claim to be descended from the great 
Indian hornbill. No member of this clan may kill a hornbill, 
and they say that if they ate hornbilFs meat it would be 
equivalent to eating their father and mother. The Mihlong 
do not, however, offer any sacrifice to the hornbill. The 
Wozukamr clan of the Ao Nagas is another hornbill clan, 
and hornbill meat is forbidden to members of this clan in 
the same way as it is to the Mihlong. 2 

I give below the pedigrees of the chiefs. These are of 
interest as illustrating the process by which new villages 
have been split off from the parent stock. None of the 
pedigrees goes back beyond nine generations. To show 
how highly the Lakhers esteem legitimate birth, I may 
mention that on my first visit to Savang after it had been 
taken over, Itong, a descendant of Bonghia in the junior 
branch, laid claim to the chiefship on the ground that 
Taiveu, the de facto chief, who also claimed to be de jure 
chief, was Keinang's son by a concubine. Possibly a legiti- 
mist would have accepted Itong's claim, but as Taiveu had 
been accepted as chief 'and had established himself firmly 
while the village was still independent, nothing could be 
done. The pedigree of the Saiko chiefs illustrates very 
clearly how rapidly the large villages split up into smaller 
communities under British rule. None of the villages to-day 
is very small, but they are much smaller than they used to 
be. The Saiko branch of the Tlongsais all remained under 
one chief for a long time. The British first appeared in the 
hills when Theulai was chief of Saiko. Theulai was between 

1 C/. Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 139. N. E. P. 
* Cf. J. P. Mills, The Ao Nagas, p. 146. N. E. P. 


100 and 120 years old when he died, and must have been 
about seventy when some of the Lakher villages were first 
taken over. Since that time five villages have been split off 
from Saiko, and are now ruled over by the nephew and the 
sons of Theulai. The Changza pedigree shows the close 
connection between the chiefs of Chapi and Chakhang and 
their relations, the Haka chiefs of Khihlong and Ngiaphia. 
Daughters have been omitted from all the pedigrees for 
reasons of space. 

Captain Tickell, 1 writing in 1852, gives a list of chiefs and 
villages out of which only Savang, which is shown as Yang- 
lyng, and its chief as Khenoung, can be identified with 


The Lakher system of relationship is classificatory. The 
language is not rich in terms of relationship, the same terms 
being made to do duty for many different relationships. In 
the table below I have followed mutatis mutandis the list 
given by Mr. Mills, at p. 164 of The Ao Nagas. Strict 
etiquette is observed in the mode of address. Neither men 
nor women of the same generation as the speaker's parents 
are ever addressed by name such persons, if relations, are 
addressed by the term given in the table below ; if they are 
not related to the speaker, and are of the same generation 
as the speaker's grandparents, they would be addressed by 
courtesy as Imapaw (my grandfather) or Imanong (my 
grandmother). Persons of the same generation as the 
speaker's parents who are unrelated to the speaker are 
addressed in a very roundabout fashion as " My father the 
father of So-and-so," e.g. Ipa Zahia paw (My father the father 
of Zahia) or Ina Zahia nong (My mother the mother of 
Zahia). It would be impolite to address persons of the same 
standing as the speaker's father or mother by name or merely 
by the name of their eldest child, it would be too intimate 
when they are not related to the speaker to give the simple 
titles, Ipa, Ina (my father, my mother), so a combination 

1 S. R. Tickell, " Notes on the Heuma or Shendoos," Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal, No. Ill, 1852. N. E. P. 


of the two forms of address is used. All relations on the 
father's side, in fact all clansmen of the same generation as 
the speaker's father, are addressed as Ipa, or, if women, as 
Ina. On the mother's side, only the speaker's mother's 
sisters and their husbands are addressed as Ina and Ipa, 
all other persons of the mother's generation being addressed 
as, "My father the father of So-and-so," and "My mother 
the mother of So-and-so." It is not ana to call persons of 
an older generation by name, but it is not respectful, and it 
is never done. Young men generally call each other by 
name ; or, if they are on specially friendly terms, they call 
each other Inaw (my brother) or viasa or kadua (my 
friend). Unmarried girls call each other by their names, or, 
if they are on friendly terms, they address each other as 
viasa (my friend) or, Inaw (my sister). Teknonymy is 
commonly practised by the Lakhers, as also by the Lusheis. 
Married men and women address each other by the name 
of their eldest child, whether boy or girl, e.g. Zahia paw 
(Zahia's father), Zahia nong (Zahia's mother). Elderly 
people without children, if their sisters have children, are 
called after their eldest nephew or niece, e.g. Zahia pupa 
(Zahia's maternal uncle). 

Unmarried people and people who have no children are 
often called by short names by persons related to them or 
with whom they are on affectionate terms. Thus Sarang 
might be called Irang, which means " my Bang," or Bang 
Rang. Rachi might be called Ira or Ichi or Chichi ; actually 
I have known Chichi used. Ngongkong might be called 
Ingong or Ikong or Kong Kong. Hnichang could be Ihni 
or Ichang or Changchang ; the Laki chief with that name 
is called Changchang. lakhai, chief of Longba, is generally 
called Khaikhai ; he might be called Ikhai. Konglang of 
Savang is usually called Langlang, but Ikong or Hang might 
also be used. Siatu of Amongbeu, before he had children, 
was called either Itu or Tutu. Zahia of Paitha is usually 
called Ihia. These abbreviations denoting affection can be 
used to people older than the speaker, as well as to people 
of the same age as or younger than the speaker. The only 
exception to this is that a commoner younger than a chief 


would always address him as papu, and never by his short 
name, even though they were intimate. Commoners of the 
same standing as the chief or older than him, if on intimate 
terms, would use the short name. 

Formal friends, the kei macha and Jcei hawti, call each 
other either kadua (my friend) or Inaw (my brother), or, if 
they have children, as " So-and-so's father." Relations, if 
of the same generation, can always address each other as 
" So-and-so's father, or So-and-so's mother/' or by the term 
of relationship as they like. 

In addressing a chief, the term papu, meaning maternal 
uncle, is used, this being the most honourable form of address 
in the language. 

In addressing a stranger whose name he does not know, a 
Lakher says " Khichhaipa " (0 stranger). 

Again, if two or three people are in the jungle or near a 
Khisong or abode of evil spirits, they do not call each other 
by their names, lest the evil spirits, realising that a man is 
in the neighbourhood, should seize the spirit of the man 
whose name has been mentioned. To avoid this danger, 
therefore, if they have to call one of the members of their 
party, they merely say, Eu heinaw, which means "my 

It is not considered good form to ask a person his name, 
and a man's name should be ascertained by asking some one 
else. If it is necessary to ask a person what his name is, 
you should also ask the name of his clan. Lakhers do not 
like to tell their names to any one younger than themselves 
or belonging to a lower clan, but they have no objection to 
telling them to older people or to any one belonging to a 
higher clan. It is not correct to ask a man the name of 
his wife, and Lakhers are always reluctant to reply to this 

Lakhers avoid mentioning the names of dead persons as 
far as possible, but if it is necessary to refer to a dead person 
by name there is no definite prohibition on doing so. The 
idea is that the mention of a dead person's name causes pain 
to the deceased's relatives, and so should be avoided if 


Terms of Relationship used in address. 

M.S. SB Man speaking. 
W.S. = Woman speaking. 

Father's father .... Imapaw or Papa. Never by name. 

Mother's father .... Imapaw or Papa. Never by name. 

Father's mother .... Imanong or Mami. Never by name. 

Mother's mother .... Imanong or Mami. Never by name. 

Father I pa. Never by name. 

Mother Ina. Never by name. 

Father's elder brother . . Ipa. Never by name. 

Father's younger brother . Ipa. Never by name. 

Father's brother's wife . . Ina. Never by name. 

Father's sister Nanang or Inangnong or Nangnang. Never 

by name. 

Father's sister's husband . Iparapa. Never by name. 

Mother's brother . . . Papu. Never by name. 

Mother's brother's wife . . Papi or Ipinong. Never by name. 

Mother's elder sister . . Ina. Never by name. 

Mother's younger sister . . Ina. Never by name. 

Mother's sister's husband . Ipa. Never by name. 

Wife's father Papu or Ipupa. Never by name. 

Wife's mother .... Papi or Ipinong. Never by name. 

Wife's father's father . . Imapaw. Never by name. 

Wife's mother's mother . . Imanong. Never by name. 

Husband's father . . . Iparapa. Never by name. 

Husband's mother . . . Nanang or Inangnong or Nangnang. Never 

by name. 

Husband's father's father . Imapaw. Never by name. 

Husband's mother's mother. Imanong. Never by name. 

Elder brother (M.S.) . . . Au. Occasionally by name. 

Younger brother (M.S.) . . I di t or by name. 

Elder brother (W.S.) . . Au. Rarely by name. 

Younger brother (W.S.) . . Idi. Occasionally by name. 

Elder sister (M.S.) . . . Au. Barely by name. 

Younger sister (M.S.) . . Idi, or by name. 

Elder sister (W.S.) . . . Au, or Ifi among the Sabeus. Rarely by 


Younger sister (W.S.) . . Idi, or Ifi among the Sabeus, or by name. 

Father's brother's son . . Au if older, and Idi if younger than speaker, 

or by name. 

Father's brother's daughter . 

Father's sister's son ... ,, ,, ,, ,, 

Father's sister's daughter . ,, ,, ,, 

Mother's sister's son . . . Au if older, and Idi if younger than speaker. 

Mother's brother's son . . Papu or, very rarely, Au if older than the 

speaker, or Idi if younger than the 


Mother's brother's daughter . A u if older, and Idi if younger than speaker. 

Husband By name always. 


Wife's brother .... Papu, if younger than speaker by name. 

Wife's elder sister . . . If of same age as speaker, by name ; if 

older than speaker, Au. 

Wife's younger sister . . Idi t or by name. 

Husband's elder brother . Au. Never by name. 

Husband's younger brother . Idi, or by name. 




Husband's elder sister 
Husband's younger sister 
Wife's elder sister's husband 

Wife's younger sister's hus- 

Husband's elder brother's 

Husband's younger brother's 

Wife's brother's wife. 

Husband's sister's husband . 

Elder sister's husband (M.S.) 

Younger sister's husband 


Elder sister's husband (W.S.) 
Younger sister's husband 

Elder brother's wife (M.S.) . 

Younger brother's wife (M.S.) 
Elder brother's wife (W.S.) . 

Younger brother's wife (W.S.) 

Son's wife's parents (M.S.) 

Daughter's husband's parents 

(M.S.) (W.S.). 



Elder brother's son (M.S.) . 
Elder brother's daughter 


Younger brother's son (M.S.) 
Younger brother's daughter 


Elder sister's son (M.S.) . 
Elder sister's daughter (M.S.) 
Younger sister's son (M.S.) 
Younger sister's daughter 


Elder brother's son (W.S.) . 
Elder brother's daughter 


Younger brother's son (W.S.) 
Younger brother's daughter 


Elder sister's son (W.S.) 
Elder sister's daughter (W.S.) 
Younger sister's son (W.S.) 


Au. Never by name unless of same age as 

Au. If older than speaker. Idi, if younger 

than speaker, or by name. 
Au, or by name, or, if he has a child, as 

" So-and-so's father." 
By name, or as " So-and-so's father." 

Au. Never by name ; but child's name 

may be used. 
Au ; if older than speaker. Idi, if younger, 

or by name. 
Papi if her husband is older than speaker ; 

if her husband is younger than speaker, 

by name. 
Au if older than speaker ; if younger than 

speaker, by name; or as " father of So- 
and-so " if he has a child. 
Au if older than speaker ; if younger than 

speaker, by name. 
By name. 

Au. Never by name. 
By name. 

Au, or, if she has a child by eldest child's 

name, as " mother of So-and-so." 
Idi, or, if she has a child, by eldest child's 

name, as " mother of So-and-so." 
Au, or, if she has a child, by eldest child's 

name, as " mother of So-and-so." Never 

by name. 
Au ; if older than speaker, if of same age, 

by name ; if younger, Idi or by name. 
By their eldest child's name, or by name. 

By their eldest child's name, or by name. 

Isaw, or by name. 

I saw, or by name, or, among the Sabeus, Ifi. 

laaw, or by name. 

Itupa, or by name. 
Itunong, or by name. 
Itupa, or by name. 
Itunong, or by name. 

M, or very occasionally by name. 
By name. 

Iri, or by name. 
By name. 

Isaw, or by name. 




Younger sister's daughter Isaw, or by name. 


Wife's brother's son . . . By name. 
Wife's brother's daughter 
Wife's sister's son 

Wife's sister's daughter . 
Husband's brother's son 


Husband's brother's daughter 
Husband's sister's son . . By name. 
Husband's sister's daughter 
Daughter's husband . . , 

Son's wife Isaw or by name. 

Son's son .... 
Son's daughter 
Daughter's son 
Daughter's daughter . 

or by name. 

Descriptive terms for Relationship. 

Grandfather (paternal and maternal) Mapaw. 

Grandmother (paternal and maternal) Manong. 

Father Paw. 

Mother Nong. 

Father's elder brother No term ; they would say, " I pa 

Zahia paw " that is, " My 
father, the father of Zahia," 
referring to him by his eldest 
child's name. 

Father's younger brother .... Same way as father's elder brother. 

Mother's elder sister Same way as father's elder brother 

i.e. Ina Zahianong. 

Mother's younger sister ,, , 

Elder brother (M.S.) Vta. 

Elder brother (W.S.) 

Younger brother (M.S.) .... Nawta. 

Younger brother (W.S.) .... 

Brother (W.S.) Rilapa. 

Elder sister (M.S.) Uta. 

Younger sister (M.S.) Nawta. 

Elder sister (W.S.) Uta. 

Younger sister (W.S.) Nawta. 

Sister (M.S.) Sitanong. 

Sister (W.S.) Naronong. 

Mother's sister's son By name (no relation). 

Mother's sister's daughter ... 

Husband Vapa. 

Wife Lapinong, 

Husband's elder brother .... Usually by child's name, sometimes 

as Uta. 

Husband's younger brother . . . Usually by child's name, some- 
times as Nawta. 

Husband's elder sister ..... By child's name. 

Husband's younger sister .... By child's name, or, if no child, 

by name. 

Wife's brother By child's name. 

Wife's sister's husband By name. 

Elder or younger sister's husband Piapa. 


Elder or younger sister's husband By child's name, or by name. 


Elder brother's wife (M.S.) . . . Uta. 

Younger brother's wife (M.S.) . . Nawta. 

Elder brother's wife (W.S.) . . . Meunong, or Uta, combined with 

her child's name. 

Younger brother's wife (W.S.) . . Meunong, or Nawta, combined 

with her child's name. 

Son's wife's parents By their child's name. 

Daughter's husband's parents ... ,, 

Daughter's husband By name. 


Son's wife Meunong, or by name. 

Child Saw, or by name. 

Grandson Samangpa. 

Granddaughter Samangnony. 

Father's sister's husband . Parapa. 

Great grandson . 
Great granddaughter 
Great great grandson 
Great great granddaughter 


Brethren Unaw. 

Elder or younger sister's son (M.S. ) . Tupapa or Chhongchhipa. 

Elder or younger sister's daughter Tunongnong or Chhongchhipa. 

Sister's children Ngazua. 

Maternal uncles or cousins . . . Patong, 

While descriptive terms exist for grandchildren and great 
grandchildren, in the elder generation there are no terms for 
ancestors further back than grandfathers and grandmothers, 
great grandfathers and their ancestors being all referred to 
as grandfathers. The grandfather and grandmother are 
treated with the highest respect, whether on the father's or 
on the mother's side, and with greater deference than any 
other relations. 

It is very difficult to say whether papu and papi, the 
maternal uncle and his wife, or a person's parents come next 
in order of respect ; some people give preference to the 
maternal uncle and some to the parents. Looked at from 
certain points of view, the maternal uncle has a position of 
superiority ; looked at from others, the parents are more 
important. On the whole I think that pride of place must 
be conceded to the parents. 

After the maternal uncle and his wife come the wife's 
father and mother, also called papu and papi, and then 
nanang and parapa, the father's sister and her husband. A 
man must always be polite to these elder relations, and 


failure to behave properly to papu and papi, the maternal 
uncle and his wife, would certainly involve the person who 
forgot his manners in the payment of a hmiatla (atonement 

The most striking feature of Lakher relationship is the 
very close connection between the maternal uncle (pupa) and 
his nieces (tunongnong) and nephews (tupapa). The maternal 
uncle is regarded as very nearly as closely related to a person 
as his parents, and is treated with deep respect and venera- 
tion, and has definite rights and privileges. When a girl 
marries, her puma is payable to her maternal uncle, and the 
puma is often larger than a father's share in his daughter's 
price, as he has to divide up his share with his sons, the 
bride's brothers. When a man dies his death due (ru) is 
payable to his maternal uncle, who is also entitled to a share 
in any wild animals shot by his nephews. The maternal 
uncle in his turn has to give shares of any animals he shoots 
to his nieces, and if he has no nieces, he is expected to give 
shares of meat occasionally to his nephews. This is called 
ngazuasaphei. He is also bound to help his nephews and 
nieces if they are in distress, and it is to him that they turn 
for help even more than to their parents, and vice versa. 
At a funeral it is the pupa, the maternal uncle, or his son 
who plays the leading part, calls out the names of deceased's 
ancestors, makes cuts on the beams to frighten the Chhong- 
chhongpipa, leads the dance at the wake, and finally sees that 
the grave is properly dug and lays the body in it, having 
first sacrificed a pig as riha to go with his deceased nephew 
to the land of the dead. As further illustrating the close 
relationship between a maternal uncle and his nephew, it 
is ana for a maternal uncle to curse or insult his nephew, in 
the same way as it is ana for a father to curse or insult his 
son. Insults and quarrels between a pupa and his tupapa 
must be atoned for by sacrifice, or terrible misfortunes would 
occur. It is absolutely prohibited for a nephew to marry 
his deceased pupa's widow, and it is believed that if such a 
marriage took place there would either be no children or, if 
there were children, they would be cretinous, halt, blind, 
or mad. 


The highest term of respect in use among Lakhers is papu 
(my maternal uncle), not ipa (my father) ; a villager address- 
ing the chief always calls him papu. Among Lusheis the 
same deep respect for the maternal uncle is also found. The 
Lushei term of respect applied to the chief is kapu, the 
equivalent of the Lakher papu. A Lushei failing to pay the 
requisite dues to his maternal uncle or pu is liable to a fine, 
called pubanman. Lakhers cannot claim a fine on this 
account, but a chief would always enforce a maternal uncle's 
claims to his dues. Lusheis have frequently told me that 
a pu is often of much greater assistance to his nephews and 
nieces than their parents. Among the Lakhers, therefore, 
and also among the Lusheis, the maternal uncle is nearly on 
a level with the parents. 

The Village. 

The village community consists of three estates : the chief 
(abei), the patricians (phangsang), the plebeians (machhi). 
The people as a whole are known as flapi, which includes the 
chief, the patricians, the plebeians, the village elders and 
other village officials in fact the whole people. Within the 
phangsang is yet another class, which forms a sort of upper 
aristocracy, the members of which are known as kuei, 
These kuei consist of the descendants of people whom some 
former chief excused from the payment of the rice due, 
known as sabai, and the meat due (sahaw), in consideration 
of their having subscribed to pay an indemnity on the 
occasion of a defeat in war by another village or of their 
having helped the chief to entertain visiting chiefs. When 
a chief from another village pays a visit to a brother chief 
he has to be received with great ceremony, and is always 
given handsome presents by his host. If the host is unable 
to provide these presents from his own resources, he calls 
on his leading villagers to help him, and they subscribe 
gongs, necklaces, or other articles for presentation. In 
consideration of the help given to the chief in this way, 
those who subscribed presents for a royal guest were made 
kuei, and exempted from sabai and sahaw. The privilege 


of kuei is hereditary, and descends to the eldest son of the 
person on whom it was conferred, and so on for ever. 
Once in every generation each kuei must help the chief in 
some way, even if it is only by giving him a pig. The kuei 
are exempted from rapaw in Chapi, but not in Savang. In 
Savang when a kuei shoots a wild animal he pays a much 
lower due than an ordinary person. 

Nowadays, a chief sometimes makes an elder who has 
served him well a kuei as a reward for his services. The 
elder, in return for the honour conferred on him, has to give 
the chief a pig. 

The machas or elders are men selected by the chief to 
assist him in ruling the village. Usually they belong to 
noble clans, but if there are any specially able plebeians 
available, chiefs often appoint them as elders in preference 
to less intelligent nobles. The elders receive a share 
in the meat due, called vopia, which is paid by the loser 
whenever a case is decided, and a certain number of them 
are given exemption from coolie work by Government in 
consideration of the work they do in the village. 

In addition to the machas, there are some other officials 
who deserve notice. There is the tlaawpa, the village crier, 
who goes round the village every evening giving out the 
chief's orders for the next day, and is remunerated by being 
exempted from coolie labour ; the seudaipa, the blacksmith, 
who repairs the tools and fashions new ones ; and the khi- 
reipa, the village writer, who writes all letters for the chief 
and acts as his clerk and man of all work ; both of these 
receive certain dues from the villagers and are exempted 
from coolie labour by Government. 

The Lakhers have no such thing as village priests, each 
householder performing his own sacrifices, but for the Tleulia 
sacrifice a special priest is appointed by the chief and 
villagers from among the families that have been in the village 
for several generations. This priest is known as the tleulia- 
bopa. In most of the villages the post of tleuliabopa is held 
for life, and the tleuliabopa is very often succeeded by his 
son, though in case of misconduct the chief and villagers can 
dismiss the holder of the post and replace him. In Chapi 


and Savang no permanent tleuliabopa is appointed, the 
sacrifice being performed by any man who is ceremonially 
pure. In all the villages except Chapi the tleuliabopa is 
entitled to a yearly due, known as zidei, which consists of 
a basket of paddy. 

Another functionary is the cheusapathaipa. The literal 
meaning of cheusapathaipa is " the pure man/' and the term 
is applied to the person who acts as cook when the chief 
performs the Khazangpina sacrifice. Usually the man 
selected is a close relation of the chief, and it is essential 
that he should belong to a noble clan. A cheusapathaipa 
must be of absolutely pure descent on both sides, and no 
one descended from a slave, or whose mother or grand- 
mother was a concubine, or any of whose ancestors was a 
bastard can hold this office. A murderer cannot be a 
cheusapathaipa. In Savang only members of the Bonghia 
clan can act as cheusapathaipa to the chief. 

Unlike the Lusheis and most of the Assam hill tribes, the 
Lakhers have no bachelor's house. Bachelors do not sleep 
in their parents' houses, nor even, as among the Paithes, in 
the verandah of the chief's house, but in the house of the girl 
they happen to prefer at the moment. A bachelor is known 
as a satlia, and an unmarried girl as a laisa. A boy reaches 
the status of a satlia when his hair becomes long enough to 
tie up in a knot over his forehead, and as soon as he attains 
this status he is no longer allowed to sleep in his parents' 
house, but is sent off to join the young men in some house 
where there are unmarried girls. This arrangement is not 
conducive to morality, and has the further disadvantage 
that the boys lose the disciplinary training of the bachelor's 
house. Two or three young men generally sleep in one 
girl's house, and the girl in whose house they sleep must 
provide them with nicotine-water. The girl usually sleeps 
near her parents, who occupy the bed with the younger 
children, or else in a place by herself ; before retiring, she 
indicates the spot near the hearth in the inner room where 
her swains are to sleep by placing a log of wood for them to 
use as a pillow. The young men take the blanket from the 
youngest of their number and lay it by the pillow as a rug 


to lie on, and all of them snuggle together under the other 
blankets as close together as they can, so as to keep warm. 

If a youth makes advances to the girl in whose house he 
is sleeping, and she accepts them, and they have intercourse, 
no one can raise any objection, and the girl cannot after- 
wards claim any fine from her admirer, love affairs between 
unmarried boys and girls being the custom among the 
Lakhers, and constituting no offence. If, however, a youth 
sleeps with a girl on her parents' bed during their absence, 
and is caught, he is fined a pig and a fowl to the parents, 
and a pig and sahma as vopia to the chief and elders. The 
pig and the fowl paid to the parents are sacrificed in order to 
purify the bed. In Tisi a much heavier fine is imposed 
namely, a gong of seven spans to the girl's parents, a vopia 
to the chief and elders, and a dog and a fowl to the parents, 
which they must sacrifice to purify the bed. The fine varies 
slightly in different villages. 

In Chapi there is a custom that if only one youth is sleeping 
in a girl's house he is entitled to sleep with the girl under her 
blanket, the idea being that if there are no other young men 
sleeping near him he will feel cold. The theory is that the 
girl's kind heart does not lead to any undue intimacy with 
her bedfellow, who merely meets with ordinary politeness, 
but the Chapi people are not prepared to assert that in 
actual practice purely platonic relations are maintained. If 
two or three youths are sleeping in a girl's house at the same 
time none of them is entitled to sleep under her blanket. 
The absence of a bachelor's house thus makes it very easy 
for the young men to obtain favours from the girls. 

The Chief. 

The chief or bei is the head of the village ; he is the leader 
in war, the owner of the village lands, the protector and 
father of his people. Though in theory possibly the chief is a 
despot, and though chiefs can and on occasions doubtless do 
commit tyrannical acts, the basic relationship between a 
Lakher chief and his people is one of mutual benefit and 
mutual help. The chief must protect his people, let them 



use his lands to cultivate, and help them in time of famine 
or other distress, and in return the people must pay him 
certain dues, render him certain services, and come to his aid 
when called upon by him for assistance. The relationship is 
similar to that existing between a Lushei Sailo chief and his 
villagers, though among the Lakhers the principle of mutual 
help is less obvious than among the Lusheis. Sailo chiefs 
being all related to each other more or less distantly, not only 
is there mutual help between chief and people, but if one 
Sailo village is burnt down or suffers a failure of crops, the 
chief of the village affected calls upon his brother chiefs 
and their villagers to assist his villagers in their misfortune, 
and help is rendered instantly, and as a matter of course. 
The Lakhers have no single royal clan like the Sailo, each 
tribe has its own royal clan, but within the village the 
same principle of mutual help between chief and people 
prevails. So far as is possible, the chiefs have been left in 
exactly the same position as they were before the Lakhers 
came under British rule, and every effort is made to support 
their authority and to prevent the people from going to 
officials over the head of the chief. The chiefs therefore 
decide all cases except those of a very serious nature, such 
as murder or rape. The chief represents the village in all 
dealings with the Government, and all dealings with the 
villagers should as far as possible be carried on through the 
chief, who nowadays has a dual function, in that, in addition 
to being the native chief and father and spokesman for his 
people, he has also become the village representative of 
Government. This development in the chief's position, 
inevitable though it is under a settled rule, brings with it 
the danger that the chief may become a mere mouthpiece 
of Government, and degenerate into a functionary useless 
alike to the people and to the Government he is supposed 
to serve, like the ga&nhum in the Assam Valley. It is 
necessary, therefore, to exercise extreme care to avoid treat- 
ing the chief as a Government functionary. The chief's 
power and privileges come from his birth, they do not come 
from Government, and misguided attempts to use the chief 
as a purely Government functionary will end in disaster to 


a most excellent system of rule. As I have remarked before, 
the commoner chiefs who have been given certain villages 
in the hills by Government never command the same respect 
as a hereditary chief, as in their case the essentials of the 
relationship between chief and people is lacking. Chiefs 
therefore should be treated with the respect due to their 
position, and if this is done they both can and do give 
invaluable advice and assistance. 

Chiefs have full power of control over their villagers 
they can punish them by fines ; and, in the last resort, if a 
villager refuses to obey the chief's orders, the chief can refuse 
to allow the offender to cultivate his lands any longer, and 
can turn him out of the village. 

Every chief now holds a boundary paper from Govern- 
ment vesting his lands in him, and on the death of a chief 
his name is removed from this paper and his successor's 
name entered instead. The Lakher chief ship is hereditary, 
and both inheritance and succession are by primogeniture, 
the eldest legitimate son succeeding. Lakhers are mono- 
gamous to the extent that they have only one legitimate wife 
(nonghrang), and although a good many men have one or 
more concubines (nongihang) in addition, it is more usual 
for men to have only one wife. A chief usually has one or 
more concubines, but as a concubine is definitely of a much 
lower status than a wife, a concubine's child, which is known 
as nongthangsaw, can inherit only if a chief has no legitimate 
heirs, i.e. sons, brothers, or nephews, and in such a case a 
chief would select the nongthangsaw he preferred to succeed 
him, as among the sons of concubines primogeniture is not 
followed. Bastards who are the result of a casual amour 
with a woman not even recognised as a concubine are known 
as riasaw. A riasaw can never succeed as chief. 

Formerly in rare instances nobles held fiefs within a chief's 
lands, which they treated as their own, and which descended 
to their eldest son. It was only under weak chiefs that 
nobles were able to seize lands for themselves, and even so, 
none of them succeeded in establishing a village. The 
owner of a fief collected rapaw from the villagers cultivating 
his lands, and in his turn had to pay sabai to the chief, while 


if he cultivated any land outside his own fief he had to pay 
the chief both rapaw and sabai. Fiefs were sold on occasion, 
and given as part of a marriage price. Khihu of Laki owned 
a fief under the Savang chief between Savang and Chapi. 
Mahneu of Chapi owned a fief under the Chapi chief between 
the Tichang and Raphu rivers. Hneutu of Saiko formerly had 
a fief between Saiko and the Kolodyne. Laidang of Sabeukhi 
owned a fief at Hloma. None of these fiefs now exists, 
the last of them were wiped out when the unadministered 
country was taken over in 1924. It would have been most 
unwise to have recognised them, as there was bound to be 
perpetual friction between the chief and the owner of a fief. 

Dues and Subscriptions. 

All villagers are bound to perform certain services for the 
chief and to pay him certain dues. In addition to those 
dues and services which must be rendered to the chief 
personally, subscriptions are levied on the authority of the 
chief and elders for village purposes of a public nature, and 
work also has to be performed by each able-bodied member 
of the village for the benefit of the whole community. The 
unit in the village is the household, and not the individual, 
so the rice due is levied on each household, though for 
services involving manual labour all able-bodied individuals 
generally turn out and take their part. 

Dues and Services to be Rendered to the Chief Personally. 

The chief's house, with a long verandah called aitla, and 
a yard fence called piali, has to be built and kept in repair 
by the villagers. While the work is in progress the chief 
supplies the workers with beer, and generally gives them a 
feast when it is finished. The Chapi villagers, in addition 
to building the chief's house, help the junior Changza chief 
when he builds, and each man also gives the Chhachhai chief 
one day's labour to help him when he is house-building. 

When the chief or a member of his family travels, some of 
the villagers have to accompany him and carry his loads 


free. When the chief or a member of his family dies, the 
villagers have to dig his grave, erect his gravestone, which 
is called longphei, and also have to sacrifice a pig as riha 
to accompany the dead chief to the next world. 

Except in Chapi, chiefs are not entitled to call upon their 
villagers to work in their fields. In Chapi the villagers give 
one day's work each year to cut the chief's jhum and another 
day's work each to weed it. If the Chapi chief buys rice in 
another village, his villagers carry it in for him. More is done 
for the chief in Chapi than in any other village. The Lakher 
chiefs all have jhums, which they work themselves, unlike 
the Sailo chiefs, who, with very rare exceptions, do no 
manual labour of any sort. These services to the chief are 
rendered cheerfully, and are never questioned, as they are 
the immemorial custom, and due to the chief as the father 
and protector of the villagers. 

The chief has special rights over bees' nests, which are 
known as kheiang. Bees' nests found on a chief's land are 
the property of the chief, and no one may take honey or 
wax without the chief's permission. The chief receives the 
honey and wax taken by his villagers and gives the people 
who took the nest a small share as remuneration. If any 
one takes honey or wax without the chief's permission he 
is fined according to the amount he took. 

The most valuable dues received by the chief are the rice 
dues, known as sabai and rapaw. In the old days sabai was 
paid only to the chief, nowadays two village officials the 
village writer and the blacksmith also are given sabai, the 
reason being that as no one would accept these posts on an 
honorary basis, the villagers had to offer sabai to induce 
people to fill them, and even now the posts are not popular. 

In most of the villages sabai is the only rice due payable, 
but in the Chapi and Savang groups there is another due, 
called rapaw. Sabai is the due payable to the chief in 
recognition of his chiefship, and is usually one tlabai or 
basket of paddy. Rapaw is the price payable to the chief 
for the privilege of cutting jhums in his land. Sabai is 
payable to the chief in whose lands the field for which it is 
being paid is situated. It must be paid in paddy if the payer 


has any ; if his crops have failed or the person to whom the 
due is payable agrees to accept cash or a fowl in lieu, cash or 
a fowl can be paid instead. If a man has fields in the lands 
of two chiefs he must pay sabai to each of them, but sabai 
is not payable for a mere plot of vegetables. The paddy for 
sabai is given to the chief at his house as a rule, though in 
some villages he has to collect it from each house in the 
village. In Savang and Chapi the chiefs build granaries in 
their fields, in which the villagers deposit the paddy paid 
as rapaw, the paddy for sabai being collected by the chief 
from each house. 

If a man migrates without paying sabai he is fined 1 rupee, 
the fine being the same in all the villages. In Chapi if a man 
migrates without paying rapaw he is fined a gong of seven 

In Savang if rapaw is not paid the fine is 1 rupee for each 
bai of paddy due. 

The following list shows the rates of sabai payable by each 
house in the village, and the persons to whom it is paid 
village by village. The dues are always measured by the 
tlabai or bai, the size of which has been permanently fixed 
in each village by the chief and elders. 


To the chief, three baia of paddy, or, if not jpaid, 1 rupee. 

To the village writer, one bai of paddy, or, if not paid, a fowl. 

To the blacksmith, one bai of paddy or a fowl from each householder 

whose tools he repairs. 
To the tleuliabopa, one bai of paddy or a fowl. 


To the chief, three baia of paddy or 1 rupee. 

To the village writer, one bai of paddy or a fowl. 

To the blacksmith, one bai of paddy or a fowl from each householder 

whose tools he repairs. 
To the tleuliabopa one bai of paddy or a fowl. 


To the chief, four baia of paddy or 1 rupee 8 annas. 
To the village writer, one bai of paddy or 8 annas. 
To the blacksmith, two baia of paddy or 12 annas. 


To the chief, three baia of paddy or 1 rupee. 

To the village writer, two baia of paddy or 12 annas. 

To the blacksmith, one bai or 4 annas. 

To the tleuliabopa, half a bai of paddy or 2 annas. 





To the chief, two bais of paddy or 12 annas or a pullet. 

To the village writer, one bai and a half of paddy or 8 annas. 

To the tleuliabopa, one bai of paddy or 4 annas. 

In addition to this the chief is entitled to rapaw from 
each house in the village as follows : 

If the crop is 10 bais the chief receives 2 bais. 
20 2 




If the rapaw is not paid, the defaulter is fined at the rate 
of 1 rupee per bai. 

The Savang chief can also claim the following dues : 

Rapawti A pot of sahma beer once a year from each house in the village 

or, in default, 4 annas. 

Eapawsa Two handfuls (pazapikha) of ginger once a year from every house. 
Rapawto One packet of cooked rice wrapped up in plantain leaves once a 

year from each house. 

The due paid to the tleuliabopa has been shown for con- 
venience under sabai ; the proper term for this due, however, 
is zidei. 


In Chapi dues are paid not only to the chief, but also to 
two other junior hereditary chiefs, who assist the chief in 
ruling the village. One of them, Mahneu, is a Changza, and 
a cousin of the ruling chief, Rachi, the other, Satha, belongs 
to the Chhachhai clan. When the Changzas turned out the 
Chhachhai chiefs they allowed them certain privileges, which 
are continued to this day. 

The sabai payable in Chapi is as follows : 

To the chief one bai and a half of paddy or 8 annas. 

To the junior Changza chief one bai and a half of paddy or 8 annas. 

To the Chhachhai chief half a bai of paddy or 4 annas. 

To the village writer one and a half bai of paddy or 8 annas. 

The blacksmith gets no sabai. 


In addition to this, the chief receives rapaw at the rate of 
seven bais of paddy and one pot of sahma from each house, 
and also larapaw, which consists of a basket of cotton from 
every cotton-field. Defaulters are fined 3 rupees. 


Sahaw is a meat due payable to the chief and certain 
other persons in the village on every wild animal killed 
by a villager. No matter in whose lands the animal was 
killed, the due must be paid to the chief in whose village 
the hunter resides. In Chapi the due is payable on certain 
domestic animals also. In Tisi there is a curious custom 
that if a man borrows a gun and promises beforehand that 
if he shoots anything he will divide it up among all the 
villagers, the ordinary dues are not payable ; the animal is 
divided up into approximately equal shares, and every one, 
from the chief down to the poorest widow, gets a share. 
Successful hunting is rewarded by honour and glory rather 
than by actual profit, as when a man has paid his sdhaw to 
the chief and the other village officials entitled to it, to the 
sapahlaisapa, to his pupa and other relations who can claim 
a share, he has very little meat left for himself. 

Details of the sahaw payable to village officials in the 
different villages are given below. If the due is not paid 
the person failing to pay it is fined. The amount of the fine 
varies in different villages. 


The chief receives a hind-leg. If the due is not paid a fine of 10 rupees 

is inflicted. 

The blacksmith receives two ribs. 
The tleuliabopa receives a fore -leg without the shoulder. 


The chief receives a hind-leg and the spleen. If the due is not paid, 

the person not paying is fined 1 rupee. 
The blacksmith receives three ribs. If the due ia not paid he can 

claim a fowl. 
The tleuliabopa is given just enough meat for one meal. If fish are 

caught he is given enough fish for one meal. 


The chief receives a hind-leg. If the due is not paid a fine of 1 or 2 
rupees is inflicted, according to the size of the animal shot. 

The blacksmith receives four ribs. If the due is not paid a fine of 4 
annas is inflicted. 



The chief receives a fore-leg. If the due is not paid a fine of 10 rupees 

is inflicted. 

The blacksmith receives two ribs. 
The tleuliabopa receives a span's length of the spine. 


If the animal has been shot or trapped the chief receives a fore -leg. 

Any one failing to pay sahaw is fined 10 rupees. 
If a kuei kills an animal, he has only to give the chief the piece of the 

spine between the shoulders, with the small bones on each side. 
The tleuliabopa receives a shoulder. 


In Chapi, as all the guns belong to the chief, he can 
claim an extra due from any one who borrows a gun from 
him. For the hire of a gun the chief takes half the neck 
of any animal shot. The kueis, who are exempted from 
sahaw, are liable for this due, and a kuei hiring one of the 
chief's guns has to pay him a hind-leg of every animal 
shot. The details of the meat dues paid by the Chapi 
villagers are as follows : 

To the Chief. 

(1) A hind-leg, the spleen, a kidney, the tail and the meat round its base, 

and a span's length of the spine of all wild animals killed. 

(2) The hind-leg and the tail, with the meat at its base, of every animal 

sacrificed to the mountain at Tleulia or when a new house is built. 

(3) Once a year two small pigs out of those collected as Vawhle. 

(4) A hind-leg from every dog, goat, or pig killed at Chithla. If only a 

chicken is killed, one leg of it cooked with rice. 

(6) The largest fish caught when fish are poisoned or caught in a fish 
weir or a drag net (sopi), and fourteen small fish when fish are 
caught by damming a stream and slightly diverting its course 
(paraea), or when they are netted. 

The junior Changza chief receives a fore-leg of each wild 
animal killed, and also the meat from between the shoulders 
of each domestic animal killed. Once a year he is given 
one small pig out of those collected as Vawhle. 

The Chhachhai chief receives the leg minus the shoulder 
of each wild animal killed only. 

The village writer receives half the neck of each wild 
animal killed. 

Persons failing to pay their dues are fined, the fines varying 
with the amount of the dues unpaid. 


Services and Dues to be Rendered to the Community. 

Every villager is bound to do certain work for the benefit 
of the community. The path to the water supply has to 
be kept clear, all jungle round the village has to be cut at 
regular intervals, the water supply has to be fenced, and 
paths leading to neighbouring villages and to the fields have 
to be cleared once or twice during the rains, otherwise so 
rapid is the growth of weeds and undergrowth that the 
paths would be impassable. The village forge is built and 
kept in repair by the villagers. All work of this nature is 
known as tlaraihria, and any one failing to do his share is 
punished with a fine, which is known as leu. The amount 
of the fine depends on the amount of work that was left 
undone. If a cash fine is levied, it would be 8 annas or 1 
rupee, but more often an axe, a dao, a hoe, a fowl or a seer 
of rice. If money is paid, it is used for the purchase of rice 
beer, which is drunk by the chief and elders. If the fine is 
paid in kind, the article seized becomes village property. 
All villagers are expected to join in making tiger-traps, and 
any one failing to assist would have to pay leu. The 
building of a fish weir is also communal work in which all 
should help ; shirkers are not allowed any share in the fish 

In the old days every one had to turn out to build the 
fort in the centre of the village, clear the jungle at all 
vulnerable points, build a stockade outside where necessary, 
and also small houses for the sentries posted on the paths 
outside the villages. In the present peaceful times these 
precautions are no longer necessary, and the villagers have 
been relieved of a great deal of work. 


Every householder in a village is bound to kill a pig 
whenever the chief and elders decide that it is necessary for 
a pig to be killed. In some villages the chief subscribes in 
his turn like any one else, in others he does not. The pig 
for sathi is usually killed to make a feast for the villagers, 
or to entertain a visiting chief, or on any other occasion for 


which the chief thinks it desirable for an entertainment to 
be held. If a man migrates before he has taken his turn 
to kill a pig he must pay 5 rupees to the chief instead. The 
6 rupees goes to the village entertainment fund. 


Whenever a sow has a litter, one piglet has to be given to 
the villagers. This piglet is used by the villagers for any 
purpose they like. Sometimes it is used for a sacrifice, 
sometimes as remuneration to a young man who has gone 
on a message, sometimes for other purposes. The chief and 
elders seize the piglet as soon as it is born. If the piglet is 
not given, a rupee must be paid instead. The chief is not 
liable to this due, and in Chapi the chief is given two piglets 
a year out of those collected for vohle. 


This is a subscription of paddy levied for public purposes 
on every house in the village except the chief's. It is 
generally used to repay any rich man who has advanced 
money or property for a village entertainment to a dis- 
tinguished visitor, or for a village sacrifice like the Tleulia. 
The paddy is all collected in one place, and sold, and the 
proceeds are devoted to whatever purposes the chief and 
elders order. Salt is also sometimes collected in this 
way, but in that case only houses in which there are strong 
young men, who can go down to the plains to fetch the salt, 
are called upon to subscribe. 

Tlongang (Hospitality). 

In addition to the regular subscriptions already described, 
it is the duty of every Lakher to be hospitable. Travellers 
passing through a village can claim a night's food and lodging 
free, and are generally given a packet of rice to take with 
them for their midday meal next day, or if they have to halt 
a night in the jungle before reaching their destination, they 
are given enough uncooked rice for three meals. Travellers 
who have to stay a few days in a village are put up free 


for ten days, but after that are expected to pay for their 
keep, though as a matter of fact no one would ever halt so 
long except in case of illness, when no payment would be 
accepted. In addition to rice, a departing guest is given 
salt and tobacco for tho road, and if he is a particular friend, 
nicotine-water also. Chin or Lushei traders are not taken 
in free, but have to pay for their board and lodging, which 
is just, as they only come to fleece the people. 

It is considered disgraceful to refuse hospitality, but I 
think that Lakhers are on the whole less hospitable than the 
Lusheis, who make it a point of honour to vie with each 
other in looking after strangers and guests. 


Lakhers are not much given to migrating from village to 
village. They are attached to their village sites, and dislike 
leaving the graves of their ancestors. Unlike the Lusheis, 
who think nothing of moving to a new village for most trivial 
reasons, the Lakhers regard migration as rather disgraceful ; 
in fact, very few people migrate unless they have had a 
serious difference of opinion with the chief, or are emanci- 
pated slaves who want to start afresh in a new village where 
their origin is less well known. Before a man migrates he 
must pay up his sabai, sahaw, vohle and sathi. If these 
dues have not been paid, the chief can recover a rupee for 
sabai, a rupee for vohle, 5 rupees for sathi, and for sahaw 
an amount which varies in different villages. 

The house, garden and standing crops of a man who 
migrates are all at the disposal of his chief. The chief, or 
more usually villagers who are short of paddy, can also buy 
half of the emigrant's stored paddy at the village rate. The 
other half the emigrant can dispose of as he likes. This is 
known as apatai. Formerly the chief used to confiscate all 
the paddy belonging to a migrant ; * nowadays, however, 
the custom of apatai, which is in vogue all over the district, 
and is called in Lushei hawlbun, has been adopted in all 
Lakher villages. 

1 So, too, among the Sema and the Thado. J. H. H. 


An emigrant must take all his livestock with him when 
he goes ; if any animals are left behind they are dealt with 
according to the village custom, which varies. In Siaha, 
Saiko and Tisi a due called sediacfiahreuma, meaning the 
price of building a fence to keep the mithun out, is levied 
on each animal, at the rate of 2 rupees a year. In Savang 
a similar due of a rupee a year is levied, and is known as 
reubeunatawh, the charge made for grazing. In Chapi 
livestock may be left behind for a year, after which period 
any mithun calves become the property of the chiefs, and if 
a sow has been left behind, the litters go half to the owner 
and half to the man who looks after it. 

When a man immigrates to a new village the villagers 
subscribe paddy to help him when he first arrives, and he is 
put up in some one's house until he has built his own. The 
owner of the house in which the immigrant is put up cannot 
claim any remuneration from him. 


This term covers village idiots, cretins and other persons 
who, owing to mental or physical defects, are unable to lead 
the ordinary village life and do the ordinary village duties. 
Such persons are regarded as not responsible for their 
actions, and are not expected to do village work and are 
not liable to pay leu in default. If a chipaleipa commits an 
offence, however, he is punished like any one else. In Chapi 
if such a person is fined in a case with a fellow-villager, 
his relations have to pay his fine, but if a fine is inflicted on 
a chipaleipa in a case with a man from another village, his 
fellow- villagers pay the fine. 

Leichhang. Trial of Cases. 

The method followed by the Lakher chiefs in trying cases 
is, I should think, unique. When any one takes a case to 
the chief for trial, the latter fixes a day for the hearing. 
Each party prepares rice beer, without the aid of which no 
case can be tried, and on the day fixed the chief, with one 
or two machas or elders, goes to the house of one of the parties, 


generally to that of the plaintiff ; two or three machos with 
possibly a brother of the chief go to the house of the other 
party, and such villagers as wish to attend the case assemble 
at one or other of the parties' house. The proceedings are 
opened by handing round drinks, and as soon as the judges 
have got comfortable, the party in whose house the chief 
is seated states his case and nominates a leuchapa or repre- 
sentative. If this leuchapa is approved of by the chief, he 
is then sent to state his principal's case to the second party 
and the machas assembled in his house. The second party 
then states his case to the leuchapa and machas, and the 
leuchapa goes and reports it to the chief. If witnesses are 
to be heard, the parties calling them fetch them to their 
respective houses, and the leuchapa questions them and 
reports their evidence to the chief. All this takes a very 
long time, and as any villagers who are present are at 
liberty to express their opinion on the case, it is not easy 
for the chief to come to a decision quickly. 

When the chief has come to a provisional decision, he 
sends the leuchapa to communicate it to the second party 
and the machas who are sitting in his house, and asks them 
what they think should be done. This leads to further dis- 
cussion and endless comings and goings between the two 
houses, till at length, after due consultation, the chief and 
elders arrive at a decision. The chief then promulgates his 
order and the case is finished. The more beer that is pro- 
vided by the parties the longer the case lasts, as the chief 
and elders are quite ready to continue proceedings in- 
definitely provided they are plied frequently with beer, and 
so cases sometimes last two or three days. This cumbrous 
method of trying cases is the main reason why Lakhers 
are so much more prone than Lusheis to appeal against 
orders passed by their chiefs. 

The wonder is that any orders are ever carried out. The 
chief personally only hears one side of a case, and has to 
rely for the other side on the reports of an intermediary 
nominated by the party in whose house the chief is sitting, 
checked by the elders sitting in the second party's house. 
That the system works as well as it does speaks volumes 


for the honesty of the average leuchapa, for the simplicity 
of the people and for their readiness to give and take, with- 
out which in such circumstances no settlement could ever 
be reached. 

AMiisa or Asia. 

If the chief cannot decide the case, recourse is sometimes 
had to trial by ordeal. A leucfiapa is appointed to supervise 
the proceedings, and he takes the parties down to a stream. 
The stream is dammed so as to form a pool. Each party 
drops a little rice flour into the water to show that a solemn 
rite is to be performed, the leuchapa places each man's head 
under water and holds it there, the man who takes his head 
out first losing the case. This form of trial is rare, and is 
regarded as unlucky for the man who wins, as he is believed 
to contract consumption as a result. The man who asks 
for the trial by ordeal must pay a pig to the chief for purifying 
the hill, as the ordeal is believed to defile the hills and the 
streams of the village and to make the men, the animals, 
and the crops unhappy and impure, so a pig has to be 
sacrificed to restore happiness to all animate and inanimate 
things on the lands of the village in which the ordeal was 
undergone. The person demanding the ordeal must also 
give the leuchapa a pig for his trouble. In Savang this form 
of trial is still often made use of. A similar ordeal by water 
is in vogue among the Khyeng of Sandoway, a people related 
to the Lakhers. 1 

Another form of ordeal which used to be resorted to, 
though it has now fallen out of favour, is known as Tieipaei. 
Where a man has had paddy or other property stolen, but 
does not know who is the thief, though he knows that the 
thief must be one of his fellow-villagers, he can apply to the 
chief for Tieipaei. If the chief sanctions the ordeal the 
complainant must pay 30 rupees or a gong of seven spans 
to the villagers to show his bona fides in the accusation ho 

1 Vide G. E. Fryer, " On the Khyeng People of Sandoway Arakan," 
J.A.S.B., 1875, Part I, p. 44. N. E. P. 

See also my footnote (4) at p. 68 of Shaw's " Notes on the Thadou 
Kukis" (J.A.S.B., XXIV, 1928, No. 1), where some account of the 
distribution of the custom will be found. J. H. H. 


has brought against the village, and also a pig, which is 
sacrificed to purify the village. After this the ordeal takes 
place. A large pot of boiling water is produced, and if it is 
money that was stolen, some money, if paddy some paddy, 
is thrown into it. Two small stones are also placed in the 
pot. The villagers are all collected, and each one in turn 
has to pull out a pebble. As each person pulls out a pebble 
his hand is rubbed with the rice refuse left over after making 
sahma. As soon as every one has undergone the ordeal the 
complainant and the chief and elders examine all their 
hands, and if any one's hand has been scalded as a result of 
pulling the pebble out of the boiling water, the person with 
the scald on his hand is adjudged to be the thief, and is 
fined. The fine varies with the value of the property stolen, 
and a vopia of a pig and sahma has also to be paid to the 
villagers. If no one is scalded as a result of the ordeal, 
the complainant loses his case and also his gong and pig. 
The Garos have a form of ordeal not unlike Tieipaei, but use 
an egg instead of stones. 1 


The fines inflicted by the chiefs vary according to the 
nature of the offence and the custom of the particular village. 
The highest fine ordinarily inflicted is a sepi (a cow mithun), 
which is valued for formal purposes at 60 rupees. Money 
is scarce, and fines are generally paid in kind, mithun, pigs, 
gongs, beads and other movable property taking the place 
of cash. The fines inflicted always go to the winner of the 


Whenever a man is fined for an offence he also has to pay 
a vopia, or court fee, which consists of a pig and a pot of 
sahma, which is nominally payable to the chief and the 
villagers, but is really consumed by the chief and his elders. 
It is the same as the Lushei salam^ but is always taken in 

1 C/. A. Playfair, The Garoa, p. 75. N. E. P. 

2 Cf. Parry, A Monograph on Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 2 and 6. 
N. E. P. 


Lianeu (Murder). 

Although nowadays murder cases are tried by the courts, 
prior to British rule they were dealt with by the chief and 
elders, and a murderer had to pay a fine ranging from 100 
to 300 rupees to the relatives of the man murdered. The 
amount of the fine varied according to whether the murdered 
man belonged to a high or a low clan, the Lakhers making no 
pretence that all men are equal in the eyes of the law. The 
fine for murder was known as luteu, the price of a head. It 
was most usually 200 rupees, and was accompanied by a 
vopia, which was eaten by the chief and elders. If the 
murderer was poor and unable to pay the fine, the chief 
paid it for him, and he entered the chief's house and became 
the chief's slave, or if the chief did not wish to pay the fine, 
the murderer became the slave of the murdered man's 

If the murderer was a cheusapathaipa, or chief's sacrificial 
cook, he was considered to be defiled and to be debarred 
from performing his office any longer. Murderers were 
excluded from performing sacrifices with their fellow- 
clansmen, and were debarred from joining in tribal feasts. 
It was also difficult for murderers to marry any one 
of an aristocratic clan, and they had to content themselves 
with more lowly brides. If, in the heat of anger imme- 
diately after the murder, one of the murdered man's relatives 
killed the murderer, he was not punished, but the Lakhers 
have no custom allowing a life for a life ; there is nothing 
resembling a blood feud, and if the murdered man's relations 
killed the murderer in cold blood they were punished. A 
murdered man's brother had no right to go and kill the 
murderer even the day after the murder all that he could 
do was to claim the luteu. In addition to paying a fine, a 
murderer had to undergo purification ceremonies before he 
could be received back into society. Among the Hawthais, 
after having paid the luteu to the murdered man's relatives, 
the murderer had to perform a penance, which consisted of 
going on a journey over eight mountains and eight rivers. 
When he had accomplished this journey the murderer had 
to throw away all his clothes and any ornaments he was 


wearing and return to the village stark naked. 1 One 
Zahreu, an ancestor of the Tisi chief who lived at Siata 
years ago, committed a murder and performed this penance. 
Even after doing penance in this way a murderer cannot 
be a cheusapafhaipa, and cannot assist at the chief's Khaza- 
ngpina. In Saiko village the purification ceremony con- 
sisted merely of sacrificing a sow, washing the hands in its 
blood, bathing and remaining pana for the day of the 

Murder is very rare indeed, deliberate murder is practically 
unknown, such murders as do occur being almost always due 
to drink. 


Suicide is very rare. A striking case of it occurred 
recently, however, which, owing to the peculiar circum- 
stances surrounding it, is worth relating. Vahu, chief of 
Ngiaphia, felt that he was going mad. He summoned all 
his villagers from the fields where they were camping and 
also his relations from Hnarang. When they had all arrived, 
he held council with his elders and his relations from Hnarang. 
They all sat round in the verandah of Vahu's house and 
drank beer. Vahu said to them, " I am mad. I am not 
getting any better. Shall I do Khazangpina, or do you 
advise me to do some other sacrifice to cure myself of my 
madness ? " The elders and Vahu's relations deliberated 
for a long time as to what he should do. Then Vahu got 
impatient and said, " There are too many of you, you 
cannot come to any decision. I and my wife will consult 
together inside the house." So saying, Vahu and his wife 
went inside the house and shut the door, Vahu's wife, named 
Ngunpong, a daughter of the chief of Haka, carrying her 
five-year-old child Mahlei with her. After a short time those 
sitting on the verandah heard the sound of a gunshot, and 
Vahu's son Mahlei ran out on to the verandah crying, " My 
father has shot my mother," and holding out his hand, the 
first finger of which had been blown off when his mother, 

1 Haka Chins inflict a less elaborate penance on a murderer. Cf. Head, 
Haka Chin Customs, p. 29. N. E. P. 


who had been carrying him, was shot. None of the 
assembled company, however, dared to enter the house, and 
in a short while another shot rang out. Vahu had solved 
the problem of his madness by shooting himself. These 
events occurred at eight o'clock in the morning, but it was 
not till after three that any one dared to go in to bring out 
the corpses. When they went in they found Ngunpong 
lying dead, shot through the breast, and Vahu near by, 
shot through the mouth. The reason for the delay in going 
into the house was this. Both the corpses were sawvaw, 
Ngunpong having been murdered and Vahu having killed 
himself, and as none of Vahu's near relations was present, 
all were too afraid of the double saw to venture in, and it 
was not till the arrival of Vahu's near relations and clans- 
men, who were bound to do their best for the deceased, that 
any one dared to go in to bring out the bodies. The two 
corpses were buried next morning without ceremony outside 
the village, as both were sawvaw. 

Vahu was a man of very hot temper, and some years ago 
had shot a man by accident while out shooting in the jungle. 

This is the only case of suicide by a Lakher that I can 

Aparupa. Theft. 

Theft is not a common offence. It is considered very 
disgraceful for a well-to-do man to steal, but if a poor man 
steals, a charitable view is taken ; he is held to have been 
driven to theft by misfortune, and is not considered to have 
been disgraced. The amount of the fine depends on the 
nature of the property stolen, and varies considerably in the 
different villages. In Saiko, when paddy is stolen, if a load 
or less is stolen, the thief must provide a fowl to sacrifice to 
the spirit of paddy ; if more than a load is stolen, either the 
amount stolen must be made good or its value must be 
refunded.^ In Savang the return of the paddy is not insisted 
on, but if a load is stolen, a fine of 5 rupees is inflicted, if 
more than that, the thief is fined a racha valued at 10 rupees. 
In Tisi the paddy is not returned, and if a load or less is 
stolen, the fine of a vopia is inflicted, while for larger amounts 


the fine is a gong of seven spans or 30 rupees. In Chapi the 
fine for theft of paddy is a vopia. In addition to the fine, in 
all the villages the thief always has to give the owner of the 
paddy a fowl to sacrifice to the spirit of the paddy. Paddy 
and maize are both believed to have souls, and when a theft 
occurs the soul, being outraged by the theft, flies away, and 
has to be called back by a sacrifice. Were the soul not 
recalled in this way, it is believed that the store of paddy 
in the granary would decrease. 

In Tisi the theft of a necklace of pumtek beads is regarded 
as very serious, and the thief is fined a cow mithun, and has 
to return the necklace. The theft of a pumtek necklace, as 
it is always worn round its owner's neck, is considered to be 
tantamount to cutting the owner's throat. If a man loses 
his pumtek necklace, and it is found and restored to him, 
he is expected to give the finder a dao (thuasang), the reason 
for this being the belief that a man who finds a lost pumtek 
necklace is liable to suffer from weak eyes, and that the gift 
of a thuasang, which carries the idea of brightness, will restore 
the dimmed eyes of the finder of the necklace. In this 
village they had a curious custom for dealing with a gun 
thief. The owner of the gun would kill a fowl and put it 
uncooked into a brass pot and present it to the thief, who 
thereby became the slave of the owner of the gun. 

One of the most serious thefts is that committed when 
a thief opens a closed basket (baiba) and abstracts any of 
its contents. The usual fine for a theft of this nature is a 
sepi and a vopia, irrespective of the value of the article 
stolen. Theft from a baiba is regarded as particularly 
objectionable, as a baiba is the only place where a Lakher 
can shut up anything of value or anything that he does not 
wish other people to see. 

The theft of indigo leaves is regarded as serious, and is 
punished with a fine of a gong of seven spans and a vopia. 
Indigo is highly valued, as it is used for dyeing cloths. 

No fine is inflicted for the theft of cotton or eggs. The 
theft of both, however, is ana, as it is believed that an egg 
or a cotton thief's eyes stick out of their sockets and cannot 
close after death. The theft of a hoe is also ana, the belief 


being that any one who steals a hoe will die early, and that 
the hoe he stole will be used to dig his grave. 

If an animal such as a pig, a cow or a mithun is stolen, 
the thief has to return the animal or its value, and is also 
fined, the amount of the fine varying in the different villages. 

Kumasaparu (Theft of Bird or Animal from Trap). 

No fine is inflicted on a man who steals a bird or an animal 
from a trap set by another. The man who takes the animal 
must give its head to the person who set the trap, and also 
a hind-leg. 

It is ana for a man who has set a trap to insist on a person 
who has taken an animal caught in the trap paying him a 
fine, as it is believed that if he insists on a fine being paid, 
the setter of the trap will be unlucky in hunting ever after- 

Atuh (Assaults). 

On the whole the Lakhers are not a quarrelsome people 
they make much noise, but there is more smoke than fire. 
Assaults are generally due to drink. No fine is inflicted 
unless blood is drawn. If blood is drawn, the man com- 
mitting the assault is fined a vopia, which is taken by the 
chief and elders. 

Women are thought to require strict discipline, and 
accordingly a Lakher husband is entitled by custom to beat 
his wife in moderation whenever he thinks she requires it, 
and for an ordinary beating by way of correction a woman 
has no remedy. If, however, a man habitually beats his 
wife unreasonably and excessively, and she runs away to 
her parents, he must call her back and pay her a hmiatla 
or atonement price. If in these circumstances a man refuses 
to pay his wife a hmiatla, he is considered to have divorced 
her. When the hmiatla is paid the woman's relations are 
expected to kill a pig and give a feast to her husband, and 
the husband must in his turn kill a fowl and give it to the 
wife's people. This is done as a token of reconciliation. 

No punishment is inflicted if when two children are 
fighting one of them gets injured, but it is considered very 


bad form for the father of either of the children who are 
fighting to interfere and beat his child's opponent. The 
custom is for the children to be left to fight it out, and a 
father who tried to interfere on behalf of his young hopeful 
would be punished by the other villagers. 

Angiapatli (Eavesdropping). 

Among Lakhers eavesdropping is a definite offence. This 
is a good custom in a country where a man has only to 
stand up against the wall of a house to hear every word that 
is said outside. Married people are supposed to be able to 
say anything they like to each other within their own house, 
whether defamatory or not. Any one caught eavesdropping, 
therefore, is liable to a fine. In Saiko the fine is a gong of 
seven spans and a vopia, but if the eavesdropper repeats 
anything he has overheard, the fine is increased to a cow 
mithun. The amount of the fine varies in the different 
villages. Chapi is the only village in which no fine is 
inflicted for this offence. 

Tlahno (House Trespass). 

Any one who trespasses in another's house with intent to 
assault or annoy him does so at his own risk. No fine is 
inflicted for house trespass unless the householder gets 
injured in turning the intruder out, when the intruder is 
fined a vopia. Householders are expected to look after 
themselves in this way, and can use force to expel the un- 
welcome visitor, and are not liable to a fine even if they draw 
blood from the intruder in the process of ejecting him. It 
is ana for a pupa (maternal uncle) to break into his nephew's 
(tupapa) or niece's house. A pupa disregarding this prohibi- 
tion and breaking into his tupapa's house to chastise him 
would have to pay his tupapa a pig or a fowl with which to 
perform Thlathleu. The idea is that the tupapa would be 
seriously outraged by this breach of custom, and that his 
soul would be very troubled, and might wander away, so 
a sacrifice must be made to soothe the soul and bring it 
back to its abode. 

If a man's wife runs away and hides in another's house, 


the husband may pursue her and bring her back, and is not 
liable to a fine for forcibly entering the other man's house. 

Thapachhi (Defamation). 

It is impossible to say exactly what is defamatory and 
what is not, as much depends on the circumstances. It is 
highly defamatory to accuse a freeman of being a slave. It 
is defamatory to accuse a woman of being an adulteress ; 
but it would be worse to accuse her of being a slave. It is 
very defamatory to accuse a woman of having the evil eye 
or of being an epileptic, as such women cannot get husbands. 
It is very defamatory to accuse any one of being a bastard. 
An accusation of theft is defamatory. It is defamatory to 
accuse a young man and a girl of having been too intimate, 
but such an accusation is not regarded as very serious 
defamation, though a fine is imposed on the scandalmonger 
to teach him to curb his tongue. 

The fine for defamation varies according to the nature of 
the offence alleged and according to village custom, the 
usual fine being an earthenware pot called racha or 10 rupees. 
If a man makes defamatory statements while drunk, and 
apologises next morning, he is forgiven, and no fine is 

Sahrangthipa thlei. 

If any one kills another man's domestic animal by mistake 
for his own, he must give an exactly similar animal to the 
man whose animal he has killed. There is no fine. Such 
occurrences are fairly common, especially with pigs, as it is 
not easy to tell one pig from another. 


When a man wants to start keeping mithun and has not 
enough money to buy a full-grown cow mithun, it is 
customary to purchase a mithun calf before it is born. The 
would-be purchaser pays down whatever the price may be, 
20 or 30 rupees, and an agreement is made that he shall get 
the first calf that is born. If the calf dies before it is taken 
over by the purchaser, the owner of the mother bears the 


loss up to two or three times, according to the arrangement 
made. When the number of times agreed on has elapsed 
the purchaser can make no further claim. If the calf dies 
after it has been taken over, the purchaser bears the loss. 
This form of purchase is not in use in Savang and Chapi. 
If the mother dies, the purchaser of the calf cannot claim 
back the money he has paid. 

Sahrang a hleu. 

Two men combine to buy a mithun, each subscribing half 
of its price. They then wait till the mithun has two calves, 
and one man takes the cow mithun and the other the two 
calves. This form of purchase is frequently made use of 
by men who want to start keeping stock and have not 
enough money to buy a cow mithun. In the case of pigs, 
as soon as the sow has farrowed, the piglets are divided 
equally between the two shareholders, and the sow is sold 
and the proceeds are divided in the same way. People often 
go shares in this way in a young castrated piglet which costs 
1 rupee. One of them supplies the food, the other the wood 
and water. When the pig has attained a girth of four fists, 
they change round, the man who supplied food hitherto 
supplying the water and wood, and vice versa. When the 
pig has attained a girth of five or six fists it is killed and 
divided equally between them. 

Vo lei hlo. 

When a Lakher wants to start keeping pigs, he sometimes 
contracts to look after another's sow from the time it is 
quite small, on certain conditions. The first time the sow 
has young, the man who is looking after it takes all the 
young, the mother remaining the property of its owner. 
After the first litter, if the man who has been looking after 
the pig continues to do so, the young are divided equally 
between the owner of the sow and the man who is looking 
after it. Bitches are also kept on these terms. 

Ano or Pawlapa. 

Prior to British rule poor men often had great difficulty 


in recovering debts, and the only hope of doing so was to 
persuade some influential man to take the matter up in con- 
sideration of a share in the proceeds. Now that Lakhers 
have found that easy redress can be obtained from the courts, 
this custom is falling out of use. 

Sawnglahna or Kaleipasa. 

Another way of recovering a bad debt, if a man was on 
good terms with the chief, was to go to him and offer to sell 
him the right to collect it. If the chief agreed, he paid a 
sum in cash to the creditor, or, more likely, promised him a 
certain sum, and then proceeded to recover the full amount 
of the debt plus as much extra as he could extort. This 
method was risky, as the chief was quite likely to recover the 
debt and keep all the proceeds himself without paying a 
penny to the real creditor. 


Loans of paddy are usually made with an agreement that 
double the amount borrowed must be repaid after the 
harvest. If the loan is not repaid as agreed within the year, 
the debt is doubled each year it remains due. Thus if a 
loan of two maunds of paddy taken in May 1925 were not 
repaid till May 1928, it would amount to sixteen maunds. 


This is a loan without interest, and such interest-free 
loans can only be obtained at one special season. Every 
year in the month of Chhipa, which corresponds to our June, 
Lakhers perform a ceremony called Chakalai, to drive out 
the spirit of famine. The day for the ceremony is fixed by 
the chief. At noon on the appointed day the village crier 
gives out that Chakalai will be performed that night. When 
night falls each householder throws out of his house all the 
half -burnt firebrands, shouting as he does so, " Chaka sila, 
chapho sila, Hiakha tlong la, Thlatla tlong la," which means, 
" Go away famine, go away to Haka or Thlatla." On 
this night the women may not weave, and the village is 
pana. At dawn rice is cooked with very little water, and 


every one eats as much rice as he can, and the whole day is 
aoh for the entire village. 

If between Chakalai and the harvest any one borrows 
paddy, no interest is chargeable on the loan. The idea is 
that as between July and December the poor people's store 
of rice is at its lowest, it is not right that they should be 
charged interest on loans of paddy taken in order to enable 
them to live. 


This is the payment of a small sum due to a creditor to 
induce him to allow a debt to run on longer. Thus, if a man 
has borrowed money and is unable to pay on the date 
agreed upon, he goes to his creditor and gives him a brass 
or an iron pot or some similar article, in consideration of 
which, the creditor refrains from claiming the principal. 
This is constantly done. 

Tliapi and Tliata (Commission). 

When a man buys a mithun or a horse he is bound to give 
the seller a small present, the amount of which varies in 
different villages. Tliapi might be a brass pot of four spans 
worth 3 rupees and tliata a dao worth 1 rupee, or similar 
articles of about the same value more or less. The idea of 
this payment is partly to console the seller for the loss of a 
beautiful animal, partly because Lakhers believe that if 
they buy an animal too cheap it will die very soon, and 
partly to make the mithun fertile and healthy, as if the seller 
is happy the mithun is more likely to be happy and healthy 

Sahrang ka Leila (Damage done by Animals). 

No fine is inflicted if crops are damaged by domestic 
animals, but if cows or mithun damage crops, the owners of 
the animals must help the owners of the crops to strengthen 
their fences. If a mithun kills a man, the mithun must be 
killed as riha, and the owner of the mithun must give the 
deceased's relatives sahma beer for bupa. 

If a man owns a dangerous mithun, and the chief and the 


villagers have warned him to dispose of it but he has failed 
to do so, and it subsequently kills some one, the owner of 
the animal must pay the deceased's relatives 100 rupees 
luteu (head price), and also kill the animal for riha and 
supply sahma for bupa. 

Theupapathlei (Accidental Deaths). 

If a man out shooting or in any other way accidentally 
causes another's death, he must supply a mithun for the 
riha, a cloth called chiaraku in which to wrap the corpse, 
and a pot of sahma for bupa. No other compensation can 
be claimed. Saihleu of Chholong accidentally shot the son 
of the chief Bilsanga while the latter was up a tree, having 
mistaken him for a monkey. Saihleu sacrificed a horse for 
riha, as a horse was considered a grander sacrifice than a 
mithun, as the dead boy's spirit would be able to ride upon 
it in Athikhi, and supplied a cloth to wrap the corpse in and 
sahma for bupa. Vahu, chief of Ngiaphia, accidentally 
shot his brother-in-law Apiapa, and supplied a mithun for 
riha, a chief's cloth (cheulopang) to wrap the corpse in, five 
pumteks to bury with the body and sahma for bupa. 

Kei (Friends). 

Lakher men generally have some special formal friend, 
like the Lushei thian. Such a friend is known as kei. There 
are two grades of formal friends : the kei macha, the 
principal friend, and the kei hawti, the secondary friend. 
Every Lakher has a kei macha, but the majority of men do 
not bother about making a kei hawti, and no one makes a 
kei hawti unless his kei macha agrees to his doing so. Kei 
machas give each other the neck of each wild animal they 
shoot or trap, and kei hawtis three ribs. 

When a man's daughter or sister marries, his kei macha 
receives the friend's price, called Keima. When one of 
two friends marries the other often helps with a contri- 
bution towards his friend's marriage price. Friends are 
expected to help each other when in trouble, and are used 
as confidants. If a friendship is broken off, no claims can 
be made between friends on account of benefits given or 


received. If after breaking off a friendship either of the 
friends publishes any confidences that have been made him 
by his friend he would be fined. 

Food and Lodging Charges. 

Although among Lakhers there is no custom equivalent 
to the Lushei custom under which a man can claim chawni- 
man or food and lodging charge from any one he has supported 
in his house, circumstances similar to those which would 
enable a Lushei to claim chawmman arise among the Lakhers 
also. It is possible that under the influence of Lushei 
interpreters an attempt might be made to introduce chawm- 
man as a Lakher custom ; it is desirable, therefore, that the 
position should be made clear, as not only does the custom 
not exist among the Lakhers, but there is no word in the 
Lakher language equivalent to the Lushei chawmman. 1 

A Lakher cannot claim anything from a person on the 
ground that he has maintained him in his house. If a Lakher 
keeps a man in his house and treats him as a member of the 
family, he has the benefit of the man's work in the fields 
and of any earnings he may make ; he is bound to pay any 
fines he may incur, and even to buy him a wife, but when 
the man leaves him he cannot make any claims on him for 
board and lodging allowance. The same applies in the case 
of a woman living in another person's house, except that 
when she marries the householder is entitled to her 
marriage price, and if she has a bastard, the owner of the 
house she is living in will receive the bastard's price. In the 
old days if a man supported a child belonging to another 
clan and brought him up from boyhood, that child became 
the slave of the man who brought him up. No claim, 
however, could ever be made from a relation or fellow- 
clansman by a man who had brought him up. Now that 
slaves are not allowed, no claim can be made for chawmman 
by a man who has brought up another. The householder 
has the benefit of the work done by the man he is supporting, 
and that is all. 

A Lakher who is ill, blind, or too old to work can always 

1 Vide Parry, Luahai Customs, p. 60. N. E. P. 


claim to be fed free by his fellow-clansmen. Such a person 
generally lives in his own house, and goes round for his 
meals to the house of any fellow-clansman he fancies. No 
claim can, or, in fact, ever would be made on account of 
assistance rendered in this way. To such an extent is it 
recognised that relatives must help each other that it is 
actually ana for a brother to claim anything on account of 
services rendered to a brother, and for a pupa to claim 
anything from his tupapa on account of any help he may 
have given. 

The Position of Women. 

Like all hill-women, Lakher women have a good deal of 
hard work to perform. On the whole, however, the house- 
hold labours, whether in the fields or in the home, are very 
fairly divided between men and women. Social relations 
between the sexes are easy and natural, men and women 
meeting freely on an equal basis. The women are very far 
from being mere household drudges a married woman has 
a clearly defined position, and inside the house she is supreme. 
Colonel Lewin has remarked with surprise on the courtesy 
with which a Lakher chief treated the women who accom- 
panied him on a visit to the former's camp, and how he 
refused to drink any of the liquor offered him until the 
ladies of his party had been served first. 1 This courteous 
attitude towards women is maintained to-day, and it is very 
rare to find a Lakher who is brutal to a woman. I can only 
recall one instance of really brutal conduct to a woman, and 
in that case the offender was a Chin called Tli-Tlaw who 
had settled in Laki. Though a Lakher will beat his wife 
if he thinks she deserves it, he does not as a rule do so with- 
out good cause. People who constantly beat their wives 
are looked down upon. The high marriage prices in force 
strengthen a wife's position, and divorce is far less common 
than among the Lusheis, neither party being willing lightly 
to incur the material losses involved. A man married to a 
woman of a higher clan will not divorce her save for very 

1 T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern India, pp. 311, 312. N. E. P. 



strong reasons, as if he does, not only does he forfeit the 
price paid, but he also descends a rung on the social ladder. 
The high marriage price therefore has its good side, in that 
it tends to make marriages more permanent and the position 
of the wife more secure. A wife takes part in the sacrifices 
performed by her husband, and though she may find his 
affections shared by one or more concubines, the concubines 
cannot encroach on her social privileges, and are in a definitely 
inferior position. When a chief comes to meet visitors at 
the entrance to his village he is always accompanied by 
his wife ; and the widows of the former chiefs of Savang 
still maintain a certain position, and are highly respected 
by the villagers. In all social events the woman plays her 
part, and helps her husband to entertain his guests. She 
hands round the drinks, shares in the conversation, and 
behaves in much the same way as any European hostess. 
There is a regular etiquette as to the entertainment of chiefs' 
ladies, who do not as a rule attend feasts in the houses of 
villagers, but only when four or five ladies of chiefly or 
noble clans have been specially invited to meet them. 

Among Lakher women there is no false shame, they do 
not consider themselves as inferior beings, and take part in 
all matters in which the family is interested. If a man has 
a case, his wife comes along with him, presses her opinion, 
and says anything she may have to say without any 
shyness or reluctance. Widows act as guardians to their 
young sons, and look after their interests very efficiently. 
Married women are very moral, and adultery is far from 
common. Prostitution does not exist, but girls before 
marriage are fairly free of their favours. There being no 
bachelor's house, the young men sleep in the house of the 
girl who attracts them at the moment, and this custom 
renders prenuptial love easy of satisfaction. Even so, if a 
young man hopes to obtain favours from a girl, he has to 
work for them, and make himself pleasant and attractive, 
as Lakher girls are by no means all things to all men. 
Usually, though not always, these love affairs end in marriage. 
Although the Lakhers would be regarded by Indians as 
savages, there is no question but that they, together with 


most of the primitive hill tribes, are on a higher plain of 
social civilisation than the dwellers in the plains of India, 
and nowhere is this more clearly shown than in their treat- 
ment of women. In the hills women are normal human 
beings, with minds and opinions of their own ; they may 
lead hard lives, but no harder than the men, and all the 
time they are free. Untrammelled by purdah or caste rules, 
they can lead their own lives and are in a far happier position 
than their sisters in the plains, condemned to child marriage 
and a life behind the purdah. 

Riathama (The Bastard's Price). 

Bastards are rare, as, although no stigma whatever 
attaches to love affairs between unmarried persons, it is 
considered a disgrace for a girl to have a bastard, and 
bastards labour under serious social disabilities. The 
comparative rarity of bastards among the Lakhers is not 
due * to Lakher girls being more straitlaced than their 
Lushei sisters, but to the fact that so great is the disgrace 
which accrues to a girl who has a bastard, and so heavily 
is a bastard handicapped in after life, that as soon as a love 
affair shows signs of ending in its natural result the couple 
generally marry, so that the child may be born in wedlock. 2 
The Lakher name for a bastard is riasaw, and the bastard's 
price is called riathama. Riatha means literally scabies, and 
as it is considered disgraceful for a girl to have a bastard, 
the name for scabies, which is regarded as a shameful disease, 
is applied also to a bastard. Unlike the Lusheis, who treat 
their bastards much the same as their legitimate children, 
and among whom bastards suffer no great disabilities, the 
Lakhers despise bastards intensely. A bastard cannot take 
part in any sacrifice performed by his father, and is looked 
down on and treated as of no account both by his family 
and by the other villagers. In all the villages except Tisi 
the riathama is of the same amount as the girl's marriage 
price (angkia), and, in addition, the bastard's father has to 

1 But in this connection, see also Pitt -Rivers, Clash of Culture and the 
Contact of Races, p. 132. J. H. H, 

a The Lakher dislike for bastards is shared by the Ao Nagas. Cf. Mills, 
The Ao Nagas, pp. 266, 267. N. E. P. 


give its mother a rdhong or brass basin of five spans 
circumference in which to wash the child, which gift is called 
nawngaipasina, and also a dao to cut the umbilical cord, which 
is called liariana. Actually a dao is never used for cutting the 
umbilical cord, a sharp split bamboo being always employed. 
The dao here figures as part of the bastard's price. The 
leuchapa, or go-between, has to be given a small sum such 
as 2 or 3 rupees for his trouble, and a vopia is generally paid 
to the villagers. 

In Tisi, if the father does not wish to claim his bastard, 
he need pay no riathama, and the bastard then belongs to its 
mother's brother, who has to bring it up. If the father wants 
his bastard, he must pay riathama equal in amount to the 
girl's angkia, plus a pig as aivnia, and a pumtek bead as 

If a man has made a girl pregnant, and before the 
riathama has been paid they decide to marry, the man 
must pay the girl's father a hmiatla, the amount of which 
is decided by agreement. When this hmiatla has been 
accepted the parties marry, the ordinary marriage price is 
paid, and no riathama can be claimed. As already ex- 
plained, marriage is the usual ending for these love affairs, 
but it may happen that a girl does not wish to embark on 
permanent relations with the father of her child, and if she 
refuses to marry him, she is still entitled to claim the 
customary riathama. 

Cases occur in which a girl has been altogether too free, 
and has lavished her favours so indiscriminately that it is 
impossible for the chief and elders to decide which of a 
number of young men is the father of her child. In such 
a case the girl's statement as to which of them is the 
father is accepted, and the man named has to pay the 
riathama. As a rule girls show no reluctance in making a 
frank statement. As soon as the riathama has been paid a 
bastard belongs to its father, but the mother is responsible 
for it till it is three years old. A bastard cannot inherit 
his father's property except failing all other heirs, and a 
man's brothers and cousins would inherit before his bastard. 
Neither a bastard nor his descendants till the fourth genera- 


tion can be a Cheusapafhaipa, nor take part in the Kkaza- 
ngpina performed by a member of the clan. The status of 
a bastard, therefore, is very considerably inferior to that of 
a person of legitimate birth. 1 

Eakhong Kia (Fornication in Another's Bed). 

When a young man and girl sleep together, either in the 
girl's parents' bed or in any other person's bed, the young 
man is liable to a fine. It is ana for a couple to have sexual 
intercourse in another person's bed, as it is believed that 
such action will lead to the death of the owner of the bed. 
The amount of the fine varies, but a sow and a fowl or a 
dog are always included as part of the fine, as these animals 
have to be sacrificed to purify the bed. 

Biatai (Agreement to Fornicate). 

If a young man makes an agreement with a girl, that if 
she will let him have intercourse with her he will marry her 
or pay her a sum of money or give her a present, it is known 
as biatai. 

Agreements of this nature are enforced in some villages, 
and are not recognised at all in others. 

In the Zeuhnang villages of the Savang group all such 
arrangements are null and void, and a girl who has made 
such an agreement can claim nothing. In Saiko, Kiasi, 
Chapi, Tisi, and Siaha that is, among the Tlongsai, Sabeu 
and Hawthai the young man has to fulfil the agreement, 
and if he fails to marry the girl must pay her the amount 
agreed upon. The Zeuhnang custom in this matter is the 
same as the Lushei. The Lushei attitude is that love affairs 
between young men and girls have always been recognised 
by custom as natural and harmless, but that to allow them 
to become definite agreements which would be enforced by 
the chief and the elders would be to commercialise love and 
sanction prostitution ; hence all attempts by the girls to 
enforce such agreements are sternly refused by the chiefs, 
who insist that the old custom is the best, and must be 

1 For the Lushei customs as to bastards and sexual offences, cf. Parry, 
A Monograph on Luahai Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 49-57. N. E. P. 


followed. The Lushei attitude has a great deal to com- 
mend it, and it is interesting to find that the same custom 
exists in Savang. 

Sapihria (Touching of Woman's Breasts). 

When a man fondles a woman's breasts it is known as 
sapihria. It is no offence for a man to fondle a girl's breasts, 
young men are allowed to do this in all Lakher villages, and 
as a rule the girls like it. Even if a girl does not like it, she 
cannot, according to custom, claim any fine because a young 
man has fondled her breasts, and if she complained to the 
chief he would simply dismiss her case. It is an offence, 
however, to fondle a married woman's breasts, and a fine is 
inflicted in all the villages except Chapi and the other Sabeu 
villages if this offence is proved. The Chapi chief said to 
me, " We all do this when we are drinking together and no 
one thinks anything of it at all, so what would be the use 
of a fine ? " 

In Saiko and the other Tlongsai villages the fine is 20 rupees 
and a vopia, in Savang 20 rupees, in Siaha 20 rupees and a 
vopia plus 1 rupee to the leuchapa ; in Tisi the fine is a gong 
of seven spans circumference and a vopia. 

Aleuhno (Fornication with Sleeping Woman). 

If a man has, or attempts to have, sexual intercourse 
with a woman who is asleep, without first waking her and 
getting her permission, it is known as aleuhno. Lakhers do 
not regard this as rape, and, indeed, as stealth is used instead 
of force, there is a distinct difference. Lakher girls usually 
sleep by themselves on the floor, and not on the parental 
bed, and the young men, as already described, sleep on the 
floor in another place not very far off. A leuhno is therefore not 
very difficult to commit, and if a young man is in love with 
a girl who is not as responsive as he would wish, he some- 
times waits until the girl is asleep, and then goes over and 
lies down beside her, and before she realises fully what is 
happening, the girl finds that she is seriously compromised 
and that her admirer is accomplishing his desire. As a rule 
in these circumstances a girl makes the best of things, and 


it is but seldom that a case of aleuhno on an unmarried girl 
comes to light. Young men do not as a rule attempt 
aleuhno on a girl unless they are fairly sure that the liberty 
they are taking will not be too actively resented. Aleuhno 
on an unmarried girl is no offence in any of the villages 
except Saiko and Siaha, in which villages, probably owing to 
mission influence, a fine is inflicted if a girl complains. In 
Saiko the fine is 20 rupees and a vopia, and in Siaha 10 rupees 
and a vopia. All the other villages follow the old custom ; 
the young man is not punished, and is, in fact, looked on as 
rather a clever fellow for having attained his end, and is not 
regarded as disgraced or as having committed a crime. 
Even in Saiko and Siaha aleuhno on an unmarried girl is 
not regarded as at all a grave offence. Aleuhno on a married 
woman, is however, a serious offence in all the villages, as 
the woman's husband has been injured by this encroach- 
ment on his rights, and the woman, though through no fault 
of her own, has been placed in the position of an adulteress. 

The fines inflicted in the different villages are as follows : 

In the Saiko group, a mithun to the woman's husband and 
a vopia to the villagers. 

In Kiasi, a fine equal to the woman's angkia, plus a vopia, 
a panglukhu cloth, and a sisakuchakhi bead. 

In the Savang group, if the man accomplishes his desire, 
a fine equal to the woman's angkia must be paid to the 
woman's husband, but if the attempt fails no fine is 

In the Chapi group, if the offender and the woman are 
both common people, whether the attempt is successful or 
not the offender must pay a fine equal to the amount of the 
woman's angkia, plus a panglukhu cloth and a sisakuchakhi 
bead to the woman's husband, and a vopia to the villagers. 
In this village, as usual, the rights of the chief and his 
family are more strictly safeguarded than in any of the 
other villages, and if aleuhno were committed by a commoner 
on an unmarried girl of the chief's family the offender would 
be fined a cow mithun and a vopia ; though a young chief 
could commit aleuhno on either a commoner or a girl of the 
chief's family with impunity. If a commoner committed 


aleuhno on a woman married to one of the chief's family 
in the old days he became a slave, and nowadays would be 
fined 100 rupees plus a panglukhu cloth, a sisakuckakhi 
bead, and a vopia. If a member of the chief's family 
commits the offence on a commoner's wife, he is fined the 
amount of the woman's angkia, plus a panglukhu cloth and 
a sisakuchakhi bead to the husband, and a vopia to the 
villagers ; while if he commits the offence on the wife of a 
man of the royal house, the fine is 100 rupees plus the cloth, 
the bead and a vopia. 

In Siaha, whether the offender is successful or not, a fine 
of 60 rupees, plus a dao, a panglukhu cloth and a pumtek 
bead as sisakuchakhi must be paid to the woman's husband, 
and a vopia to the villagers and 2 rupees to the leuchapa. 

In Tisi, if the man succeeds in accomplishing his desire, 
a fine of 60 rupees is imposed, plus a pumtek for sisakuchakhi, 
a panglukhu cloth to the woman's husband, and a vopia to 
the villagers. 

If the man fails to accomplish his desire, the fine is only 
a gong of seven spans circumference worth 30 rupees and a 

The reason why a panglukhu cloth and a sisakuchakhi 
bead have to be given to the husband of the woman on 
whom the offence is committed is because the woman willy 
nilly has become an adulteress. The meaning of the cloth 
and the bead are explained in dealing with adultery. 

HrahracJiahno or Chanongchahno (Rape). 

Rape, which unlike aleuhno, involves the use of force, is 
known as hrahrachahno. It is practically unheard of, and 
in several villages I was told that they had never known a 
case. Lakhers consider rape to be very disgraceful ; but, 
as in the case of aleuhno, a girl's virtue is in most of the 
villages rated lower than that of a married woman. Rape 
is only known to have occurred when a woman has gone 
alone to the fields or to draw water, and never inside a village. 
Lushei girls who have been caught out misbehaving them- 
selves frequently try to save their reputation by alleging 
quite falsely that they have been raped. Lakher girls, 


however, are too uneducated and unsophisticated to have 
resort to such shameless behaviour, and I have never come 
across a case of even alleged rape. 

The fines for hrahrachahno are as follows : 

In the Saiko group, for raping a girl, the fine is a gong of 
seven spans worth 30 rupees and a vopia ; and for raping 
a married woman 60 rupees, plus a panglukhu cloth, a 
sisakuchakhi bead, and a vopia 

In Kiasi, for raping a girl, the fine is a racha worth 10 rupees 
and a vopia ; and for raping a married woman an amount 
equal to the woman's marriage price angkia a panglukhu 
cloth, a sisakuchakhi bead, and a vopia. 

In the Savang group, an attempted or successful rape on 
a girl or a married woman is punished with a fine of a gong 
of eight spans worth 30 rupees plus a vopia and 3 rupees to 
the leuchapa. 

In the Siaha group, if an unmarried girl is raped, the fine 
is 20 rupees ; if a married woman is raped the fine is 
60 rupees, a sisakuchakhi bead, a panglukhu cloth, and a 
vopia, and 2 rupees to the leuchapa. 

In the Chapi group, no fine is inflicted for raping a girl. 
In this village it is said that, up to to-day even, the young 
men are allowed an extraordinarily free hand with the girls, 
though no case of this nature has ever come before me. 
For raping a married woman the fine is the amount of the 
woman's angkia, a sisakuchakhi bead, a panglukhu cloth, 
and a vopia. 

In Tisi and the Hawthai villages, the fine for raping a 
girl is 20 rupees or a gong of six spans circumference and a 
vopia, and for raping a married woman the fine is 60 rupees, 
plus a sisakuchakhi bead, a panglukhu cloth, and a vopia. 
The husband of the woman raped is regarded as a cuckold 
in most villages, and so the cloth and bead form part of the 

Cheusa Lapinong Eeipaso (Attempted Seduction). 

If a man tries to seduce another's wife and the woman 
complains, the would-be seducer is fined. The fine varies 


in the different villages, but the usual fine is a gong of seven 
spans to be paid to the woman's husband, and a vopia, 
which is taken by the chief and elders. 


The Lakhers think that madness is caused by the anger 
of Khazangpa, who is held almost entirely responsible, the 
leurahripas being believed to have practically no hand in 
making people mad. It is believed that Khazangpa is 
annoyed if people fail to observe certain anas, such as the 
prohibition on the marriage of a nephew and his late maternal 
uncle's widow and others, and punishes the descendants of 
the offenders by making them mad. As soon as a person 
shows signs of being mad, Kfiazangpina must be performed. 
It is said that many people recover after Khazangpina, but 
on a certain number the sacrifice has no effect. As leura- 
hripas are not believed to be responsible for making men 
mad in most cases, the only sacrifice performed to the 
leurahripas in case of madness is thlaaw, the sacrifice per- 
formed for calling back a soul that has been seized by a 
leurahripa. Recourse is also had to Khazanghneipas in 
hopes of a cure. Lakhers recognise that lunacy may be 
hereditary, and say that it sometimes appears in the same 
family after every second or third generation. It is believed 
that if a madman is going to recover he will do so within 
three months from the first attack, and that a man who 
remains mad for over three months will remain so per- 
manently. The Lakhers also say that once a lunatic has 
taken to eating his own excrement he will refuse all other 
food and will die. 

Dangerous lunatics are bound hand and feet and kept 
inside the house, their hands being loosed to enable them 
to eat their meals. Non-dangerous lunatics are allowed their 
freedom, and are looked after by their relatives. 

Reutang (Inheritance). 

Lakher descent is patrilineal, and a Lakher's heir is his 
eldest son. The eldest son takes all the property and must 


pay up all his father's debts ; he also has to pay his father's 
ru or death due. The mother's ru must be paid by the 
youngest son, but although he has to pay this due, the 
youngest son cannot claim as of right any share in the 
estate. In practice, however, the eldest son always allows 
the youngest son a share, though theoretically it is entirely 
at his discretion to do so or not. In case of a dispute arising 
because an eldest son refused to give his youngest brother 
any share in the paternal estate, I think that probably the 
chief would insist on a compromise, giving the youngest 
son a share, unless the eldest son had very good reason for 
refusing it. Sons other than the eldest and youngest have 
no claim whatever to any share in the estate. If a man 
leaves only one son, that son must pay the ru of both his 
father and mother. Women cannot inherit, and if a man 
dies without any sons his brothers inherit his estate, as 
shown below. 1 

If the deceased was one of two brothers, the estate goes 
to the survivor. If deceased was the eldest of three, the 
estate goes to the youngest brother or his heirs. If the 
middle brother dies childless, his estate goes to the eldest 
brother or his heirs. If the youngest brother dies childless 
his estate goes to the eldest brother or his heirs. In the 
case of four or more brothers, the eldest and youngest 
brothers inherit from each other if either dies childless, and 
if a middle brother dies childless, his estate goes to one of 
the other middle brothers or his heirs. 

Failing brothers, the estate goes to uncles and first cousins, 
and then to more distant relations, eventually going to the 
nearest fellow-clansman. A woman would only inherit if 
she were the last of the clan and no other clansmen at all 
were surviving. Such an eventuality, however, has probably 
never arisen, and I do not know of any case of a woman 
who has inherited property. If a man dies leaving an only 
daughter, and this daughter is on bad terms with her uncles, 
she can claim an atonement price (Jimiatla) from them, and 

1 Cf. Rawlins, " On the Manners, Religion, and Laws of the Cucis, or 
Mountaineers of Tipra," Asiatick Researches, Vol. IT, xii, p. 193. The 
Cucis had similar inheritance customs. N. E. P. 


if they refuse to pay it they cannot claim her marriage price, 
which in such circumstances will be taken by her maternal 
uncle or his representative (the woman's pupa). When a 
pupa receives his niece's marriage price in this way, he takes 
the angkia and its subsidiary prices, but cannot claim puma 
as well : provided that they pay the hmiaila, however, the 
price will go to the girl's uncles. When the father of Seichi- 
nong of Saiko died, the latter was on bad terms with her 
father's heir, Ngiasa. As Ngiasa refused to pay Seichinong 
a hmiaila, her marriage price went to her pupa, Chhameu 
of Saiko. 

If a man dies leaving minor children, his wife is entitled 
to the custody of his estate on behalf of his eldest son, and 
may continue to occupy her late husband's house and bring 
up his family, provided she does not marry again. If a 
widow in these circumstances marries again, the property 
and children go to her late husband's brothers. If a widow 
is unable to look after the estate and support the family, 
the deceased's youngest brother or, if deceased himself was 
the youngest of several brothers, his eldest brother would 
inherit on behalf of deceased's eldest son, and would have 
to support deceased's wife and children. 

If a young man dies without children, his father inherits 
his estate, or may allow one of deceased's brothers to take 
it. The heir, whoever he is, must pay the deceased's ru or 
death due. 

A dead man's brothers and nephews will inherit his 
estate before his sons by concubines or bastards. Sons by 
concubines inherit before bastards, and bastards before a 
mere fellow-clansman. No Lakher can make a will, and all 
property must descend to the customary heirs. At the 
same time, no one can refuse an inheritance on the score of 
its being over-burdened with debt ; an inheritance must be 
accepted, and debts are inherited as well as assets. Any 
one inheriting the property of a man who has died leaving 
daughters but no sons, as a rule hands over to the deceased's 
daughters any articles usually recognised as woman's property 
that the deceased may have left, such as belts or women's 
cloths or ornaments. An essential condition of inheriting 


a man's estate is that the heir must pay the ru or death due l 
payable on the deceased and his wife, the payment of which 
can in no circumstances be dispensed with. According to 
old custom, if when a chief or a member of the royal house 
died his heirs refused to pay his death due, one or two of 
the deceased's slaves could club together and pay the death 
due, and thereby ransom themselves from slavery. The 
inheritance customs described above are those observed in 
all the Tlongsai, Zeuhnang and Hawthai villages. 

In Chapi and the other Sabeu villages, the custom regard- 
ing inheritance is different. The formal heir is the youngest 
son ; he takes his father's house and divides all the other 
property with his eldest brother, the largest share of the 
movables going to the youngest son. Sons other than the 
youngest and eldest receive no share in the inheritance, and 
if the eldest son has died before his father, the youngest son 
gets the whole estate ; but if any of these middle sons are 
still unmarried when their father dies, the eldest and the 
youngest brothers must subscribe and buy them wives. If 
a man leaves daughters and no sons, his brothers inherit, 
but must give the deceased's daughters a share of his pro- 
perty for them to have as a dowry and to take with them 
when they marry. A man's daughter inherits prior to 
cousins more than thrice removed. If the only heirs are 
a legitimate daughter and a son by a concubine, the estate 
is divided between them ; the son by a concubine has to 
pay all debts and the death dues of his father and of the 
latter's widow, but can claim his half-sister's marriage price. 
As in the other villages, the youngest son pays the mother's 
death due and the eldest son the father's. If, owing to the 
death of either the eldest or youngest son before his father, 
one of them inherits the whole estate, he must pay the death 
dues of both his father and mother. The Chapi custom of 
inheritance is in some respects similar to that followed by 
Lusheis, among whom the youngest son, known as fathlum, 
is the formal heir, and succeeds to his father's house. The 
Lakher inheritance rules are very fair : the heir inherits 
everything, debts and obligations as well as assets. It is 

1 Cf. Shaw, op. cit. p. 56, my footnote on longman. J. H. H. 


practically impossible for a man to die and leave an orphan 
family unprovided for, as his heirs are bound to support the 
orphans. This they are quite ready to do, as family feeling 
is strong, but, as a matter of fact, the orphans soon earn 
their keep if boys, and, if girls, their protector is amply 
recompensed for an> expense he incurs on their behalf when 
he receives their marriage prices. If a man likes, he can 
divide up his property among his sons in his lifetime, and if 
he does so his sons must abide by the division made by their 
father. Old men fairly frequently dispose of their property 
in this way, but it is ana for any man who is not really old 
to make such a division of property in his lifetime as it is 
believed to induce an early death. 

Adoption (Sawta Alapa). 

Adoption is very rarely resorted to, since, save in very 
exceptional cases, it is useless for any one to adopt a stranger 
as a son, as the claims of an adopted son to inherit cannot be 
sustained against the claims of members of the deceased's 
family or clan. It sometimes happens that a childless man 
adopts one of his brother's sons, and to such an adoption 
within the family no objection would be raised, and actually 
Zabeu, chief of Tongkolong, who has no children, has adopted 
Hralong, son of his brother Thangtu, and recognised him as 
his heir, and no objection has been or could be raised to this. 
Supposing, however, that a man having no children, but 
with numerous brothers and cousins, tried to adopt a boy 
who was no relation and a member of another clan, the 
brothers would at once raise strong objections, as such an 
adoption would be contrary to custom and of no effect ; 
as even distant cousins can claim to inherit before an adopted 
son. To all intents and purposes, therefore, it is impossible 
for a Lakher to adopt any one who is not a relation, as not 
only would the relations of the adoptive parent object, but 
it would be necessary to find some orphan without relations 
or protectors ; as if the child proposed to be adopted had 
relations they would certainly object to his being adopted 
into another family and clan. The only circumstances in 


which adoption can take place outside the family circle is 
if a lone man without children or other recognisable heirs 
adopts as his son a slave or captive made in war ; to effect 
such an adoption the adopter must perform Khazangpina 
and give to the person he wishes to adopt part of the phavaw. 
The participation in this sacrifice makes the person thus 
allowed to participate a member of his adopter's family, 
and after this ceremony the adoption is complete ; the 
adopted son is treated in every way as the son of the man 
adopting him, and on the death of his adoptive father 
inherits his property. Such adoptions have taken place in 
the past, but they are exceedingly rare, and are not likely 
to recur. 

Eeu (Heirlooms). 

In the families of chiefs and nobles, heirlooms are handed 
down from generation to generation. These generally 
consist of necklaces of pumtek beads, rahongs, gongs or guns. 
Rachi, chief of Chapi, has a very fine necklace of pumteks 
which came to him from Khilai, one of his ancestors, and 
which he says nothing would induce him to sell. Heirlooms, 
in fact, are never sold unless the owner is in very great 
distress indeed. In Chapi it is believed that if a man sells 
his heirlooms he will have no children, and will be the last 
of his family. This belief is not current in the other villages, 
but in all of them heirlooms are sold only in the last resort. 
The beads in the pumtek necklaces all have their own special 
names. Rachis necklace, illustrated opposite, consists of 
the following beads : (1) Thingapa ; (2) thikhongphiapa (a 
flat bead) ; (3) kiamei (this is a very old bead indeed) ; (4) 
thikhongphiapa ; (5) paripilu (a snake's head) ; (6) thi- 
khongphiapa ; (7) thivakawngapa ; (8) laikhaichanongpa ; 
(9) kiamei ; (10) thikhongphiapa ; (11) paripilu ; (12) pari- 
pilu; (13) thivakawngapa ; (14) thikhongphiapa ; (15) pari- 
pilu ; (16) thikhongphiapa ; (17) kiamei (also a very old 
bead) ; (18) thikhongphiapa ; (19) laikhaichapawpa. The 
round beads are called Sisa. Lakhers know every little 
mark on their old beads, and can identify them unfailingly. 


Marriage Customs. 

Laisacharei (Courting). 

While courting all the world over follows much the same 
course, a Lakher's wooing savours rather more of direct 
action than that of a young man in the West. 

The chief difference really is that the Lakhers frankly 
recognise facts which are camouflaged in England. The 
Lakher method of courting is similar to the Lushei, but as 
the Lakhers have no zawlbuk, and it is the custom for young 
men to sleep in the house of the girl they favour, their task 
is much easier, whether their intentions are serious or whether 
they are only contemplating a casual amour. The suitor 
spends his day with the girl ; they help each other in their 
work and exchange tobacco and nicotine-water, and at night 
the suitor sleeps in the girl's house. When a girl is favour- 
ably inclined to a young man, she places her bed nearer to 
his than is usual, and he is not slow to take the hint. The 
chief of Chapi told me that a favourite occasion for a young 
man to bring his wooing to a head is when a party of men 
and girls are drinking and singing together. The lover puts 
his arms round the girl and fondles her, and if she makes no 
objection he proceeds to make further advances, and if these 
are not taken amiss, the couple leave the merry-makers and 
go to the girl's house. Lakhers, however, are comparatively 
secretive about their love affairs, and show far better feeling 
in these matters than the Lusheis. If a Lushei has succeeded 
with a girl, he proclaims his triumph on the housetops, 
entirely regardless of the feelings of his victim, like a cock 
on a dungheap. A Lakher, on the other hand, never says 
a word, and does all he can to keep the affair quiet. 

Though the custom varies somewhat in the different 
villages, scandal is on the whole sternly discouraged. In 
the Saiko and Siaha Tlongsai groups, if any one accuses two 
young unmarried persons of having been too intimate, the 
scandalmonger is fined a racha or 10 rupees and a vopia, 
whether the charge is true or not. In Chapi and the other 
Sabeu villages a fine is inflicted only if the charge cannot be 
proved. In Savang and the other Zeuhnang villages, no 


fine is imposed for merely saying that two young persons have 
slept together. Again, in the Saiko and Siaha group, if a 
young man himself gives out that he has slept with a girl 
and she denies it, he is fined 10 rupees and a vopia, whether 
he can prove the truth of his statement or not. In the 
Zeuhnang villages, a young fellow who boasts of his success 
with a girl is fined a gong of eight spans and a vopia if it is 
found that his boast is true, but if it is found that there 
was no foundation for the boast no notice is taken. In 
Chapi and the other Sabeu villages, however, young men 
can boast with impunity, and no fine is inflicted even if the 
girl denies the soft impeachment and her self-styled lover 
cannot prove his statement. 

The Sabeu custom in this, as in a number of other instances, 
differs from the custom followed by the other groups. On the 
whole, however, it must be admitted that Lakhers are far 
more discreet about these matters than Lusheis. 

It is doubtless this dislike for publicity that accounts for 
the fact that the Lakhers have no equivalent to the Lushei 
puarak, a friend who always accompanies a young Lushei 
in amorous adventures, and who acts both as pimp and as 
witness to what occurred, if by evil chance a civil suit arises 
owing to the victorious lover's boasting of his prowess. 
However, apart from the fact that discretion in love is 
essential, there is no bar to the freest of intercourse between 
unmarried persons, and no fine is inflicted merely because a 
young man and a girl have slept together. 

Nonghia (Marriage). 

As a rule a young man's bride is selected by his parents, 
and it is only in comparatively rare cases, generally where a 
love affair has ended in an undesired result, that a man 
chooses his own bride. Except in cases of nongapahaw, a 
form of child marriage which will be described later, a man 
usually marries between the ages of twenty and twenty -five, 
and a woman after the age of twenty. This reasonable 
marriage age is due largely to the fact that Lakhers always 
want to marry into a higher clan if possible, so that it is 


by no means easy to find a suitable bride, and partly to the 
high rate of marriage price, which renders it necessary for 
a man's relatives to save up for years before they can afford 
to buy him a wife. Even so, the Lakhers marry earlier than 
the Lusheis. There is a deep social gulf between the higher 
and the lower clans, and every Lakher wants to raise his 
status by marrying a wife from a clan higher than his own. 

Prohibited Degrees of Relationship. 

Very few restrictions are imposed on the choice of a wife. 
There is no bar to people of the same clan marrying. It 
is ana for a full brother and sister to marry, as the children 
would not thrive. The Lakhers, however, believe that the 
marriage of a brother to a sister will only have evil effects 
for the parties, and not for the rest of the village, while 
among the Lusheis incestuous marriages are believed to lead 
to a failure in the crops. Children of the same father but 
by different mothers may not marry, but children of the 
same mother by different fathers may marry. The children 
of a brother and sister may and do marry if the sister's child 
is a son and the brother's child a daughter, but a man should 
not marry his father's sister's daughter, though it is not 
actually ana for him to do so. I am told that the reason 
for this is purely utilitarian, a brother's son being his sister's 
daughter's pupa, and so entitled to her puma when she 
marries, so that if he himself married her he would lose her 
price. I think, however, that the prohibition is more 
probably really due to the peculiarly close relationship 
existing between a maternal uncle and his nephews and 
nieces, the tie between them being very nearly as close as 
that between a parent and his children. The nature and 
significance of this relationship have been discussed else- 
where, and I think that probably in former times a marriage 
between a maternal uncle and his niece would have been 
just as ana as a marriage between a nephew and the widow 
of his maternal uncle is to-day. It is believed that such a 
marriage will most probably be fruitless, and that if by any 
chance offspring are produced, they will be imbeciles or 


afflicted with congenital disease. I know only two instances 
of a man marrying his father's sister's daughter, one in Siaha 
and the other at Chholong, the names of the parties in the 
latter village being Pabu and Keuhlei. Both these marriages 
took place only because the young man had made the girl 
pregnant, their relationship had come to light, there had 
been a scandal, and the relations had thought the best way 
out of it was to make the miscreants marry. 

The children of brothers do not marry, it is not absolutely 
ana for them to do so, but it is believed that the children 
will be few and unhealthy, and that the parties themselves 
will die prematurely. In the one instance of such a marriage 
that I know of, between Siatia and Nongkhai of Amongbeu, 
no evil effects are yet apparent, and they have three children. 
There is no objection to the marriage of the children of two 

It is not ana for a man to marry his father's widow, but 
it is considered disgraceful. Mawtheu of Siaha, a son of 
Kikhaw by a concubine, on his father's death married his 
father's widow, Dawpeu. This was regarded as a breach of 
custom, and Dawpeu died not long after. In a marriage of 
this kind the son does not have to pay the full marriage 
price, he has only to pay a due called abanasong, usually a 
gong of eight spans. Such marriages are very rare indeed. 1 

Although I am assured that such marriages are contrary 
to custom, I think that the sentiment against them is 
probably of modern growth. I find in Phayre's " Account 
of Arakan," J.A.S.B., 1841, No. 117, that among the 
Lungkhes and Tseindus " a son can marry his father's 
inferior wife after his father's death." It is true that 
Mawtheu married his father's married wife, but I am 
inclined to think that formerly such marriages were much 
more common than they are now. 

The marriage of a father to his deceased son's widow is 
allowed, and is not regarded as a breach of custom. Vach- 
hong, chief of Savang, married Ngongkei, widow of his son 
Chhonlang. Vachhong badly wanted an heir, and, being 

1 Marriages of this kind are frequent among the Sema Nagas, and 
regarded as quite correct and desirable. J. H. H. 


an old man, would have had to pay a very heavy price for 
any one else, the widow was good looking and willing, and 
no additional price beyond an extra gong of eight spans as 
abanasong was required. The most favoured marriage is 
with a mother's brother's daughter, 1 as it keeps the maternal 
avuncular relationship in the same line, but it is not 

Remarriage of Widows. 

There is no bar whatever to a widow marrying again, she 
can do so immediately her husband dies if she likes. A 
widow usually remains in her husband's house till the 
memorial stone has been erected, but the Lakhers have no 
equivalent to the Lushei thla-hual ceremony, before per- 
forming which a woman is considered to be still bound to 
her deceased husband, and a woman can marry while still 
living in her late husband's house without any objection. 
A woman who has children usually remains in her late 
husband's house till she marries again, and her children 
generally go with her to her new husband, but if they prefer 
to go to their father's relations or to their pupa they are at 
liberty to do so. A dead man's brothers have no rights over 
his widow unless they support her, and even then the widow 
will obey them only so long as she is living in their house. 
They cannot put any bar in the way of her remarrying. The 
price of a widow who remarries is as a rule less than that of 
a girl who has not been married before, but it is impossible 
to say what reduction, if any, will be made, as this will 
depend partly on the age, personal attractions and industry 
of the widow, and partly on the custom followed in different 
villages. A widow is called nonghmei. A woman who has 
been thrice married and all of whose husbands have died is 
called a malusong. A malusong is on the verge of being ana, 
and Lakhers are very shy of marrying malusong, as they 
believe that if a woman has outlived three husbands she is 
likely to outlive a fourth. An elderly spinster is known as 

1 This is so also among the Fijians. Cf. A. H. Brewster, The HiU Tribes 
of Fiji, p. 190. N. E. P. And generally, I think, among the hill tribes of 
Assam.~-J. H. H. 


Lapinongkhu (Marriage to Deceased Brother's Wife). 

It is quite common among Lakhers for a man to marry his 
deceased brother's wife. The deceased's relatives do not 
like to send the woman away, also it is economical for the 
man's family, as it saves expenditure on marriage price. 
When a married man dies, either his younger or his elder 
brother can, if he likes, ask to marry his deceased brother's 
wife. 1 The widow can refuse, but more usually she accepts. 
If she accepts, her deceased husband's brother pays a small 
sum, called abanasong, which is usually between 10 and 
30 rupees, to her relatives, and then marries her. In such 
a case a woman cannot claim a separate marriage price 
for this second marriage, but her new husband must pay 
any balance of the price that had not been paid by his 
deceased brother. 

If the deceased left sons, his sons inherit his property. 
If deceased left no sons, the brother who married his widow 
inherits his property, provided that he is the youngest 
brother ; but if the deceased was the eldest of three brothers 
and his widow was married by the second brother, the 
youngest of the three inherits deceased's property, and not 
the brother who marries the widow ; as eldest and youngest 
brothers inherit in preference to those born in between them. 

Ordinary Marriages. 

When the parents have found a girl they think suitable 
as a bride for their son, the first step is to send a female 
relation to the girl's parents to find out whether a proposal 
for their daughter's hand is likely to be welcomed. If this 
woman reports favourably, the parents appoint an inter- 
mediary, who is known as the leuchapa, who is sent to present 
the girl's parents with a dao (thuasang), which is supposed to 
bring them lucky dreams. 2 If on the night after they have 
been given the thuasang the girl's parents have lucky dreams, 
they will agree to the match, but if the dreams are unlucky, 

1 So, too, the Thado. Among Naga tribes, on the other hand, it is 
generally the rule that a younger brother may take an elder brother's 
widow, but not vice versa. J. H. H. 

* The Lakher thuasang may be compared with the club taken by a 
Fijian wooer. Cf. A. H. Brewster, The Hill Tribes of Fiji, p. 191.N, E. P. 


they will refuse it. Dreams about fish, clear water, neck- 
laces, guns or daos are lucky, and show that the match will 
be a success ; but dreams about a wild animal that has been 
shot or killed by a tiger, a dead snake, or about any one 
stealing pigs or fowls are very unlucky ; and if a girl's 
parents dream of any of these things they accept the warning 
and refuse the proposal. 

If their dreams have been lucky and the girl's parents 
accept the proposal, after a few days they prepare sahma, 
and invite the leuchapa and the suitor to their house 
to discuss the price. As soon as the suitor and the girl's 
parents come to a definite agreement as to the price, the 
match is finally arranged. Once the marriage has been 
fixed in this way the suitor is liable to pay up the angkia if 
he jilts the girl. In Savang the thuasang is given by the 
woman who is first sent to ascertain the feelings of the 
parents of the prospective bride, and if after the thuasang 
has been given the man cries off, he must give the girl's 
parents a gong of eight spans. As soon as the price has 
been agreed on, the wedding day is fixed, and when this day 
arrives the bridegroom sends the leuctwpa to the bride's 
parents to say that the marriage is to take place. 

On the marriage day their respective friends gather in the 
house of the bride and bridegroom and start the proceedings 
by drinking beer. After this, as the people who are entitled 
to the bride's price have to kill some pigs before they can 
claim it, the next proceeding is to kill some pigs. The 
bride's parents have to kill three to five pigs to enable 
them to claim the various prices, and the bridegroom has 
to kill a certain number of pigs in return. If the bride's 
people kill three pigs, the bridegroom must kill one in return ; 
if they kill five pigs, the bridegroom must kill two. There 
is no limit to the number of pigs that may be killed, and 
the more pigs killed the grander the show and the bigger the 
feast. The sisazi pig must be killed on the wedding day, 
and the sisazi must be paid on that day. The angkia pig 
should be killed on the wedding day, but if the bride's father 
has no pig at the time he can kill one at a later date. If 
the bride's father intends to keep all the prices that come 


under the angkia heading himself, provided that he kills 
the angkia pig, the sisazi pig, and one other pig, called the 
mahra pig, on the wedding day, he need kill no more pigs 
to enable him to claim the other angkia prices, such as the 
seipihra and seicheihra. If, however, the bride's father does 
mallei, and divides the seipihra and other angkia prices 
among his brothers or sons, each person claiming a price 
must kill a pig for each price he claims. If the bride's 
uncles or brothers kill the pigs and claim the prices on 
the marriage day, the bridegroom does not have to kill 
an awrua pig and pay awruabawna for each price claimed, 
the awrua and awruabawna paid on the angkia covering 
all the prices. If, however, the brothers kill their pigs 
and claim their prices at a later date, the bridegroom must 
kill an awrua pig and pay awruabawna with each price. 
The largest pig killed is called the angkiavo, and is killed 
to enable the angkia or main price to be claimed. This pig 
should measure six fists across the body, and is given 
whole to the bridegroom. The sisavo is then killed. If the 
bride's father has done mallei or divided the marriage price 
with his sons or his brothers or a fellow-clansman, the other 
pigs, known as the seipihravo, the seicheihravo and the 
chawcheuvo, are killed to claim the prices whose names 
they bear. When the pigs have been killed, they are cut 
in half, and the half with the head is sent to the bridegroom 
raw, the half with the tail is cooked with rice and sent ready 
cooked to the bridegroom. It is considered disgraceful for 
the bride's parents to eat any part of these pigs sent to the 
bridegroom, and they never do so. Thus three pigs enable 
the bride's people to claim the whole of the angkia and its 
subsidiary prices if the prices are not divided up between 
the bride's father and her brothers, and six are enough to 
enable all the prices to be claimed if they are divided up ; 
but these pigs do not cover the prices payable to the bride's 
maternal and paternal aunts and maternal uncle. 

In return for the five pigs killed by the bride's parents the 
bridegroom kills two pigs. These pigs are also cut in half, 
and the half with the head is sent raw and the half with the 
tail is cooked in rice and sent to the bride's parents. This 


gift of pork is known as awrua. When they receive the 
cooked meat the bride's parents say, " You have been very 
kind and have sent us this pork and rice, but unless you 
pay us the awruabawna we are not going to eat it." The 
bridegroom then pays the awruabawna, but the bride's 
parents still refuse to eat any of the meat until the sisazi 
has been paid. The sisazi, which consists of three pumtek 
beads, is then paid, after which the bride's parents eat the 
meat which the bridegroom has sent them. On this day the 
bridegroom must pay a due called lokheu to the bride's pupa 
(maternal uncle). The due is a large earthenware pot (racha) 
or 10 rupees. When paying this due the bridegroom must 
also kill a fowl and give it to his bride's pupa. 

These preliminaries having been satisfactorily settled, the 
leuchapa fetches a cup of beer from the bridegroom's to the 
bride's house, and calls the bride and her aunt to the amakia, 
which is the bride's marriage procession to her bridegroom's 
house. Before starting, the leuchapa gives the cup of beer 
to the oldest person in the house. As soon as it is dark, the 
bride and her aunt start off, their procession being headed 
by the sahmaphopa, who is a cupbearer and carries a large 
pot of rice beer, while behind him follow the bride, her aunt 
and their friends. The paternal aunt has to go with the 
bride, as she must claim the tini on the marriage day. 
When the party reach the bridegroom's house they stand 
outside and wait for the bridegroom to give the bride's aunt 
a dao to cut the road with. This gift is called lavana. The 
bridegroom must then give the bride's aunt an axe with 
which to cut away any trees that may have fallen across the 
road, and this gift is known as thangchachaina ; after these 
dues have been paid the bride's party demand the price 
which must be paid to them for climbing up the ladder to 
the bridegroom's house. This consists of a skein of cotton 
thread, and is called kahmikiana, and goes to the bride's 
aunt. The whole party then climbs up the ladder on to the 
verandah and demand chakeicfiakana, the price of crossing 
the threshold, which consists of a puggree, 1 and is taken by 
the aunt. This due having been paid, they cross the thres- 

1 Cf. Shaw, Notes on the Thadou Kukis, p. 63. J. H. H. 




hold and enter the house. The bridegroom places mats and 
a cloth for them to sit on, and they all sit down ; the young 
men bring a basket called tini baikhai to put the presents in, 
and the bride's aunt demands her dues, which are called the 
tini. This ceremony is called the tinitheuna. The tini 
consists of a large number of small dues, which vary from 
village to village, and are given in detail in the sample 
marriage prices which will be found further on. The aunt 
does not have to kill a pig to enable her to claim the tini, 
but all the dues composing the tini have to be claimed on 
the wedding day, and must be paid without delay. There 
is only one due, the atawna, which consists of a brass pot 
of five spans or 5 rupees, which can be claimed afterwards. 

The tini presents all go to the aunt except three : the 
sisai, a necklace of twenty strings of small red beads ; the 
naba, one string of cornelians, and the chongchi, a brass wire 
belt, which are taken by the bride. The following is a list 
of some of the possible component parts of the tini, but it 
is not exhaustive, and a number of dues not included here 
will be found in the marriage-price tables. 

Lakher Name of Due. 

Moaning of Name of Due. 


Lavana .... 

A dao for cutting the 

A dao. 


ThangcJiachaina . 

An axe for clearing 

An axe. 

away trees that have 

fallen across the road. 

Kahmikiana sisa . 

The price for climbing 

One pumtek. 

the ladder. 

Chakei cJiakana 

The price of crossing 

A puggree. 

the threshold. 


The largest due. 

A brass pot of five spans. 

Tini sisai . 

Red beads. 

Ten strings of red beads. 

Naba rikha . 

A string of cornelians. 

One string of cornelians. 

Kheiti rikha 

A string of round white 

One string of round 


white beads. 

Tini hrakhaw . 

A woman's metal belt. 

One metal belt. 

Tini pangphaw 

A cloth for the person 

A cloth with a black 

claiming the tini to 


sit on. 

A coat with short 

A coat with short sleeves. 


Peuchi mangnang . 

Two skeins of blue 

Two skeins of blue 



\Voman's hairpin. 

A woman's brass hair- 





Lakher Name of Due. 

Meaning of Name of Due. 



Man's hairpin. 

Five man's hairpins. 

Lara sawng 

White, red and blue 

Enough white, red and 


blue thread to make 

a coat. 


A drinking vessel for 

A brass pot of three 

a mithun. 


Pang ..... 

An ordinary cloth. 

Two ordinary cloths. 

Bawhri hra. 

In lieu of raw cotton. 

Enough raw cotton to 

make a cloth. 

Beihnang hra . 

In lieu of a chief's skirt. 

One embroidered skirt. 

Khahnang hra . 

In lieu of a good skirt. 

One good skirt. 

Zawnglei hra . 

In lieu of a skirt with- 

One ordinary skirt. 

out a join. 

Lakeu chavei chacha . 

A bracelet for the right 

Two bracelets. 

and the left hands. 

Chhongpang lakeu hra 

In lieu of a solid bangle. 

A woman's bangle. 

Chongchi hra 

In lieu of a woman's belt. 

A woman's belt. 

Chhebi hra . 

In lieu of beads. 

A string of pink beads. 

Kihtong hra 

In lieu of cowries. 

A large cowrie. 

Vopi hra 

In lieu of a pig. 

A sow of three fists. 

Vohrang hra 

In lieu of a piglet. 

A piglet. 

Tini thuasang 

A lucky dao. 
The bride's friend's due. 

A dao. 
Wire belt of four strings. 


The cook's skirt. 

An ordinary skirt. 

Tini chhongkhong 

A lid for the brass pot. 

A brass pot of three 



The due of the man who 

A brass pot of four 

watches the girls 


during the feast to 

see that they do not 

get into mischief. 

Tini chateuna . 

A cloth to wrap up the 

A white cloth with a 


black stripe. 

Siba patheuna . 

A basket for carrying 

An iron pot of four 

the tini. 

spans or 2 rupees. 


A cane mat. 

A cane mat. 

Tinitlana .... 

The end of the tini. 

A brass pot of four spans 

or 3 rupees. 

Baikai .... 

A basket for carrying 

A basket or a fowl. 

the tini. 

As soon as the aunt has finished claiming the tini, which 
takes a long time, she is plied with beer to make her as 
drunk as possible, so that she may forget what dues she has 
claimed and so fail to carry them off with her when she goes. 
The bride and bridegroom are placed on seats near the 
sahma pot, and the actual marriage ceremony takes place. 
The leuchapa takes a cup of rice beer, dips his brass hairpin 
in it, gives some beer from the hairpin to the bride and bride- 
groom to drink, and wishes them many children, long life 


and prosperity. This ceremony, which is called Tipani, 
must be performed before the first cock crows, and until it 
has been performed the bride must not drink beer nor smoke 
in her husband's house. 

After this the bride and bridegroom drink beer together, 
and then get up and spend the rest of the night with the 
assembled company, drinking and singing, and finally the 
bride returns to her parents' house. In Tisi there is an 
additional ceremony. One of the young men present kills 
a fowl while the couple are drinking beer, and sings a chant. 
The sacrifice of the fowl is to enable the couple to have 
children, and the fowl can be eaten only by unmarried girls 
and relations of the sacrificer. 

Next day the bride's parents, with the bride and ten or 
fifteen friends, go to the bridegroom's house with a pot of 
sahma beer and ask him and his leuchapa how much of the 
price he can pay at once. The bridegroom pays as much 
as he can, and owes the balance. The rest of the day is 
spent in feasting and drinking. In the evening the bride 
and her party all return to her parents' house. The man who 
carries the sahma pot is called the sahmaphopa, and the 
bridegroom has to pay him 4 annas or a fowl. The following 
day they all meet again in the bridegroom's house, and the 
bride's parents ask the bridegroom to give presents called 
ahla to the friends who have accompanied them. The 
(Mas are then paid. The chief, the elder or macha who 
came with the party, the woman sitting next to the bride's 
mother, who is called the chanongtokhai, and the man sitting 
next to the bride's father, the chapawtokhai, the mocheu or 
bride's friend, the cooks or chongtlapa who carried the pork 
to the bride's house all receive small dues, which vary in 
different villages ; and the other members of the party 
probably get a fowl each or a small sum of money. These 
presents all have to be refunded if the woman later leaves 
her husband. As it is difficult for the bridegroom to find 
the wherewithal to pay all the dues expected from him, 
he distributes the pork he has received from the bride's 
people to his friends and relations, and calls on them to 
help him to pay the presents mentioned above, sending 


two men called ahlasupa to invoke their aid. The ahlasupa 
are given a hind -leg of pork each. After the presents have 
been distributed, the bride and her party return to her 
parents' house. 

When the bridegroom and bride belong to different 
villages, an additional due, called adeuna, has to be paid to 
the person who takes the angkia, in consideration of the fact 
that he has had the trouble of escorting the bride to the 
bridegroom's village. In some villages the amount of the 
(Mas is also increased. The next day the bride finally 
moves over to her husband's house. After the house has 
been thoroughly cleaned and purified, the husband sacrifices 
a white cock on a stone in front of the house, and as soon as 
the cock has been killed the stone it was killed on is turned 
upside down. The bride and bridegroom and the bride- 
groom's parents eat the cock together. This sacrifice is 
called Miapali, and is to ensure that the couple shall get 
good crops and shall not cut themselves accidentally while 
cutting the jhums. The spirits of the pigs which have been 
killed are called Mia, and they are believed to hover over 
the place where the pigs were sacrificed. The reason for 
turning upside down the stone upon which the cock was 
sacrificed is to turn the Mia out of the house. In Tisi, on 
Miapali day, it is customary for a man to take a small fowl 
in one hand and a broom in the other and to go round the 
house sweeping out all the dust and refuse of the feast. 
When the house has been swept clear the fowl is killed 
by throwing it on the ground, and is then cast out in the 
direction of the setting sun. This ceremony is supposed to 
cast out all evil that might affect the crops of the newly 
married pair, and to ensure that their jhums shall burn 
completely and that their paddy shall germinate. 

From now on the bride remains in her husband's house, 
but it is not etiquette for the husband and wife to sleep 
together till at least a month has elapsed, and sometimes 
they wait for as much as a year. 1 This delay is said to be 

1 Among the Fijians a similar delay in cohabitation takes place. (7/. 
A. H. Brewster, The Hill Tribes of Fiji, p. 196. N. E. P. Cf. also The 
Angami Nagas, p. 222, and Notes on the Thadou Kukis, p. 67 n. f , for similar 
cases. J. H. H. 


due to shame, as the neighbours make spiteful comments 
on the indecent haste with which the marriage has been 
consummated if it seems that a child is on its way too soon. 
Considering the freedom of prenuptial intercourse, this 
restraint after marriage is curious, and in this the Lakhers 
are quite unlike the Lusheis, who always consummate the 
marriage on the first night that the bride sleeps in her 
husband's house, which is the night following the night of 
the wedding ceremony. For the first few months of the 
marriage, therefore, the bride sleeps in her husband's house, 
while he sleeps in some other house, and woos his wife as if 
she were a stranger. It is not until a man has consummated 
his marriage that he sleeps permanently with his wife in his 
own house. 

There are two slight variations from the procedure 
described above which are sometimes adopted and which 
should be mentioned here. 

(1) When a chief asks for the hand of another chief's 
daughter for his son, he employs a madia or elder as leucha- 
pa, and if, after the thuasang or dao has been presented and 
the girl's parents have had good dreams, the marriage is 
agreed on, the angkia is paid at once, before the usual 
ceremonies called amakia have been performed. The bride's 
parents kill a mithun or a pig, and the bridegroom's parents 
must pay the amount of the angkia, whatever it may be. 
This is called angkiasani. It is not essential for the angkia 
to be paid on the angkiasani day, it can be paid at the time 
of amakia if desired, but if after the angkiasani the bride- 
groom calls the marriage off, the girl's parents keep the 
angkia paid, or, if it had not been paid, can claim it. 

After angkiasani all the other ceremonies described before 
are performed as usual. 

(2) In the case of common people a similar procedure is 
also adopted sometimes, but in their case it is the sisazi 
which is paid in advance. On the day fixed for payment 
of sisazi the bride's people kill a pig, and the sisazi, which 
consists of three pumteks, is paid by the bridegroom. If 
after this the bridegroom jilts the girl, her people can keep 
the sisazi, and if it has not been paid can claim it. 


This payment in advance is sometimes insisted on by a 
girl's parents in order that they may assure themselves of 
at any rate part of the price before they commit them- 
selves to the marriage. 

In Chapi and the Sabeu villages the procedure is rather 
different from that followed in the other villages. The 
man's parents select the bride, and if her parents are agree- 
able the parties inform the chief, and ask him for his consent, 
and it is not until the chief has approved the match that the 
ihuasang can be sent. This is another example of the very 
paternal rule of the Changza chiefs of Chapi. The thuasang 
having been sent, the preliminaries as already described are 
gone through. On the marriage day the bridegroom's party 
with the chief go to the bride's house, and the bridegroom 
pays the sisazi, which consists of two pumtek beads and an 
iron pot of three spans in circumference. If the bridegroom 
can do so, he pays the whole of the angkia price on this day, 
but this is not essential. The point in which the Chapi 
custom differs most from that of the other villages is that 
the amakia does not take place on the wedding day. The 
bride's people if possible kill two pigs, or at any rate one, 
and provide beer, while the bridegroom kills a fowl and 
gives it to the bride's parents. A small feast is held, but 
it is not essential for the bride's father to kill pigs to enable 
him to claim his daughter's price ; pigs are killed, but 
primarily for a feast. 

On the wedding night the bride sleeps in her husband's 
house, and the marriage is consummated ; if not on that 
night, then within a week or ten days. It is not till after 
the marriage has been consummated that the amakia takes 
place. There may be a delay of anything between six 
months and two years after the marriage before the amakia 
takes place. It depends on the financial position of the 
parties, and whether there are plenty of pigs and beer 
available for the feast. Often the amakia does not take 
place till one or two children have been born. 

The amakia feast lasts for three days. The first day is 
the awruabawna day. On this day the bride's people kill 
pigs, and the bridegroom reciprocates. If the bride's people 


kill three pigs, the bridegroom must kill two, and if they 
kill five, the bridegroom must kill three. The pigs are cut 
up, the stomach, the skin and meat over the stomach, and 
one hind-leg of each pig are set apart, and the bride's people 
send the rest of the pig raw to the bridegroom. Of the 
parts set aside by the bride's people, the stomach is cooked 
and sent to the bridegroom, while the hind-leg and the skin 
and meat over the stomach are given to the cook. The pigs 
killed by the bridegroom are dealt with in exactly the same 
way : the cook receives the hind -leg and the skin and meat 
over the stomach ; the bride receives the cooked stomach and 
the rest of the meat raw. The bride's parents refuse to eat 
the cooked meat until the awruabawna is paid, and when this 
is paid they hold a feast, and the amakia procession to the 
bridegroom's house takes place. The bride's aunt claims 
her tini as already described. The next day the bride's 
parents claim her price, if it has not already been paid, and 
the bridegroom pays as much as he can, leaving the balance 
to be paid off by instalments. In Chapi if the parties both 
live in the village none of the presents called ahla is paid ; 
these are payable only if the bridegroom belongs to another 
village. The Chapi chief does not wish his village girls to 
marry strangers, so if a man from another village wants 
to marry a Chapi girl, he has to pay a higher price for her 
than a Chapi villager would. The parents of a girl whose 
angkia would be 20 rupees to a Chapi man demand an 
angkia of 30 rupees from a man of another village, and all 
the subsidiary prices are raised proportionately. Ordinarily 
in Chapi no Miapali sacrifice is performed, but if the marriage 
takes place at the time when the paddy is germinating, a 
fowl is supplied by the parents of the bride and bridegroom, 
and is sacrificed on the Tleulia ground, its flesh being given 
to the elders to eat. The reason for this sacrifice is the belief 
that if a marriage takes place when the paddy is germinating 
the paddy may die unless the sacrifice is performed. If both 
the sisazini and the amakia happen to take place while the 
paddy is germinating, the sacrifice must be performed on 
each occasion. 

On the third day a feast is held, the pork is all eaten and 


much beer is consumed. In Chapi the price called chawcheu 
must be given to his brother by the person who receives the 
girl's price. Sabeu marriage custom thus differs consider- 
ably from that in the other villages. On the whole it is 
more sensible, the marriage price is lower, the delay between 
the marriage and its consummation is only nominal, and the 
marriage feast is adjourned until the parties have collected 
the means to perform it suitably. 

Nong a Pahaw (Child Marriage). 

This is a curious custom entirely unknown among the 
Lusheis. Either the parents of two children marry them 
at an early age when both are below the age of puberty, or 
else a young man aged eighteen or twenty is married to a 
girl child, or a girl who has reached puberty is married to 
a boy younger than herself, who has not reached the age of 
puberty. These marriages are more often between two 
children of about the same age than between a mature and 
an immature person, and in most villages are comparatively 
rare. There are said to be two ideas at the back of this 
custom, the first being the desire of Lakher parents for 
their sons to marry into a higher clan, to ensure which a 
parent reserves a girl of good clan for his son at a tender age ; 
and the second that if a girl is married young she is less 
likely to be deflowered by some other youth than her husband 
before she gets married. When such a marriage is con- 
templated the parents who wish their son to marry send 
a woman to sound the girl's parents, and if the latter 
are agreeable, a male envoy or leuchapa is then sent to 
present the girl's father with one pumtek bead to be worn 
as an ear-ring by the girl. This is called nachipaba. The 
girl's father must give the leuchapa rice beer to drink. 
After this a thuasang is sent to the girl's father through the 
leuchapa, and if that night the girl's parents have good 
dreams the match is finally settled and the price fixed. 
The couple are then treated as betrothed, and if the man 
breaks off the engagement he must pay the angkia. After 
this the parties wait till the girl has tied her hair up, and 
then theamakia takes place, pigs are killed by both parties and 


the price is claimed. The girl is still probably immature, 
and so she spends her time partly in her father's house 
and partly in her husband's house, as she likes. When 
the girl reaches the age of puberty, her husband has to 
woo her and try to persuade her to let him sleep with 
her. This courtship after marriage is called ngiapareu, 
and nowadays, if the girl does not like her husband, and 
absolutely refuses to sleep with him, she is considered to 
have divorced him, and the whole of the price paid must be 
refunded to him. 

If the husband forcibly sleeps with his girl wife before she 
has fully reached the age of puberty and she complains, he 
will have to pay a hmiatla or peace offering of a racha, a 
large earthenware pot, to her parents. Where the husband 
is younger than the wife, and the wife reaches the age of 
puberty first, the girl must wait until her husband is able 
to have intercourse with her. If prior to her husband being 
able to have intercourse with her the girl has- intercourse 
with another man, she is treated as an adulteress, and is 
subject to all the pains and penalties incurred by adultery. 

If when a husband reaches the age of puberty he refuses 
to have anything to do with his wife, he is considered to 
have divorced her, and her people will keep all the price 
they have received, and can claim any balance of the price 
for which they have killed pigs. If either party dies before 
the marriage can be consummated, the girl's people keep 
whatever amount of the price has been paid, but none of 
the unpaid balance can be claimed. 

Formerly, if when a girl reached the age of puberty she 
refused to let her husband have intercourse with her, her 
father would tie her hands and feet and take her to her 
husband, saying, " I have tied your wife up for you ; now 
have intercourse with her." The husband then usually 
consummated the marriage while his wife was still tied up. 
If the husband refused to have connection with his wife 
while she was tied up, he was considered to have divorced 
her, and her parents kept all the price paid for her, and 
could claim any balance for which they had killed pigs. 

Sometimes a girl induced her husband to release her 


before he had had connection with her, on the pretext that 
she would then let him have intercourse with her willingly, 
and, having been released, escaped before her husband 
could accomplish his purpose. When this happened the 
husband was held to have divorced his wife, and her people 
kept the whole of the price that had been paid, and could 
claim any balance for which they had killed pigs. It seems 
strange that the parents of a woman who had deceived her 
husband in this way should have been entitled to keep the 
price paid for her. The idea seems to have been that the 
parents had done all they possibly could by tying the girl 
up and handing her over to her husband, and that if the 
latter was so foolish or so tender-hearted as to let the woman 
go without consummating the marriage when he had the 
chance, he only had himself to blame, and could not claim 
back the price. If the woman ran away after consumma- 
tion, her price had to be refunded. The custom of tying up 
a wife who refuses to yield to her husband's embraces has 
passed out of use, but if a girl refuses to allow her husband 
access to her she is soundly beaten by her parents and sent 
back to her husband well primed with good advice. Several 
instances have been recorded, however, within living memory. 
Chiachai, a sister of Theulai, chief of Saiko, was married as 
a child to Pilang, brother of the chief of Tisi. Having 
refused to let her husband have connection with her, she 
was tied up and sent back to him, but induced him to release 
her by promising to let him sleep with her freely as soon as 
she was released. In spite of her promise, Chiachai, without 
redeeming her pledge, ran back to her village. Theulai 
kept all the price he had been paid, since he had done all 
that could be expected of him. 

Nongpawh, daughter of Theulai, was married as a child 
to Dawlong. When she grew up she refused to let him 
have intercourse with her, so her parents tied her up and 
sent her back to him, and he consummated the marriage 
while she was tied up. After this they lived happily to- 
gether, and had children, and the woman is still alive. A 
similar case is that of Chahnang and Teichai of Siaha. 
Chahnang consummated the marriage while Teichai was 


tied up, and the marriage was a success, and they have 
sons. Teichai is now living in Amongbeu. 

In the Zeuhnang villages, child marriage is practised 
only in the case of marriages between cross cousins that 
is to say, when a man marries his mother's brother's daughter. 
Marriages between these relations are much favoured in 
Savang. The preliminaries are settled by verbal agreement, 
and no payment is made till the girl is of marriageable age. 
If the match is broken off before amakia, neither party 
forfeits anything. 

In Chapi and the Sabeu villages child marriage is the 
commonest form of marriage, probably because the Sabeu 
value noble birth even more highly than the other Lakhers, 
and so make timely arrangements to secure a girl of a high 
clan for their sons. A verbal agreement is first made, and 
as soon as the girl can work in the fields the bridegroom's 
parents send her parents a dao (thuasang) and pay the 
sisazi. If the girl refuses to sleep with her husband, her 
parents beat her, but it has never been the custom in Chapi 
to tie a girl up and return her to her husband. If the girl 
continues in her refusal to have anything to do with her 
husband she is held to have divorced him ; the girl's parents 
are allowed to keep her angkia and sisazi provided that they 
have killed pigs for them, but the rest of the price must be 

Anas relating to Marriage. 

There are certain occasions on which it is ana for a married 
couple to sleep together which it will be convenient to 
mention here, though some of them will arise again. 
These occasions are when the man is performing the la 
ceremony over a head taken in war, during Saia and Salu- 
pakia, before setting traps and when the man has wounded 
a wild animal and intends to follow it up next day. 1 It is 

1 In the Sema Naga tribe there are, of course, similar tabus, which in 
connection with agricultural ceremonies, etc., amount in all to a consider- 
able number of days in the year. Some villages have, on conversion to 

regarded as taking the place of the various occasions on which it was 
tabu to go to work in the fields before conversion to Christianity. J. H. H. 


not ana for a man to sleep with his wife when she is pregnant, 
nor is it ana when a woman is menstruating, though in 
the latter case it is usually avoided. 

Exchange of Husbands. 

A curious custom is that in certain circumstances women 
can exchange husbands. If two sisters get married about 
the same time and, after amakia, but before their husbands 
have actually had intercourse with them, they come to the 
conclusion that they each prefer the other's husband, pro- 
vided that the husbands agree, they can exchange. The 
price each man has paid goes to the price of his new wife, 
since it makes no difference to the person who gets the 
price, as he is to get the price of both of the women. Bei- 
chai and Pawlong, daughters of Theulai, chief of Saiko, 
married Mapaw of Longba and Matupa of Tisi respectively, 
and finding that each preferred the other's husband they 

The Marriage Price. 

A Lakher's marriage price is a most complicated affair, 
and consists of several parts, each part in turn having a 
number of subsidiary prices attached to it. 

The main price is called the angkia, and the rate of the 
angkia governs the rate of all the other prices. Once the 
angkia is fixed the rate of the other prices follows auto- 
matically. In theory the higher clans have marriage prices 
with a higher rate of angkia, but in actual practice it is 
impossible to tell what a girl's angkia will be simply by 
finding out her clan. The difficulty arises from the fact 
that all Lakhers are social climbers, and try to marry into 
a clan higher than their own. Thus, supposing a man A 
and his son B and B's son have all married into clans 
higher than their own, when C is marrying off his daughter he 
will try to obtain for her a higher angkia than his own clan 
angkia. For a man to be able to claim a' higher angkia than 
his own clan angkia for his daughter, it is necessary for both 
him and his father and grandfather to have married into 
higher clans. One marriage only into a higher clan is not 


enough to raise the angkia. In Savang only, if the mother's 
angkia is higher than the father's, the daughter's angkia 
will be the same as her mother's. The ordinary rates of 
angkia vary from 10 to 70 rupees, though lower rates are 
occasionally found. 

We have thus the curious situation that while for all 
religious and other purposes a Lakher is born into his 
father's clan, and cannot change it, for the purpose of the 
marriage price a Lakher regards his daughters as entitled 
to a higher rate of marriage price than his own clan price, 
provided that his grandmother, his mother and his wife 
belong to higher clans. This leads to great confusion, and 
makes it impossible to say at a glance what angkia rate a 
given girl's price will take. The following are the different 
parts of the marriage price : the angkia, the puma, the 
nongcheUy the nangcheu, the tini, and in Savang and the 
Zeuhnang villages, the nonghrihra. As each of these prices 
has its own series of subsidiary prices, it is necessary to 
describe them separately. 

The Angkia. This is the main price, and, as explained 
above, is the basis of all the other prices. Where the 
angkia is high, the other prices are proportionately high, 
and where it is low, they are proportionately low. The 
angkia is taken by the father, or if he is dead by the elder 
brother of the bride in all villages except Savang, where if a 
man has sons he does not take his daughter's angkia, the 
angkia of the eldest daughter going to the eldest son and of 
the younger daughters to the younger sons. In Savang 
the father and the elder son always live in the same house, 
and are regarded as the same person, and it is only if a man 
has no sons that he takes the angkia of his daughters. 

The angkia is made up of the following prices, the angkia 
proper meaning the largest price, the sohra meaning the 
portion of the price which has to be paid in lieu of giving 
a slave as part of the price. It can be claimed only by 
persons whose angkia is 60 rupees or over. 

Seipihra . . The portion of the price given in lieu of a cow milhun. 

Seicheihra . . The portion of the price given in lieu of a bull mithun. 

Sisazia . . Three pumteks to be paid on the marriage day. 

Chawcheu . . The brother's share, payable to one of the bride's brothers. 


If the father is going to take all these six prices himself, 
he need kill only three pigs to enable him to claim them. 
If, however, he has divided up all the prices except the 
angkia and sisazia among his sons or brothers, which division 
is known as matlei, each person claiming a price must kill 
a pig for it. In addition to the six prices named above, 
there are the following prices, to claim which no pig need 
be killed. 

Eaipihra . . The price payable in lieu of a beer pot. 

Dawhra . . The price payable in lieu of a brass pot. 

Keima . . The price payable to the man friend of the man who receives 
the angkia. It should bo paid on the marriage day. 

Awrudbawna . A price which must be paid on the marriage day before 
the bride's parents eat any of the cooked pork sent 
them by the bridegroom for the marriage feast. 

If on the marriage day the full number of pigs was not 
killed, and later on another pig is killed to claim the seipihra 
or seicheihra, the bridegroom has to pay awrua and awrua- 
bawna over again, which comes very heavy on him, and 
accordingly he usually presses for all the pigs to be killed 
on the marriage day. 

As stated above, the person strictly entitled to the angkia 
is the bride's father or eldest brother ; in practice, however, 
the person entitled to the price usually allows one or more 
of his sons, brothers or kinsmen some of the prices com- 
prised in the angkia. As already explained, if the prices 
are divided in this way, it is known as mallei, and two 
additional prices can be claimed by the persons getting 
the sohra, seipihra, seicheihra, and chawcheu. These two 
prices are as follows : 

The chanonghla This means the woman's share, and goes to the wife of 

the person who gets the seipihra or sohra, or other 

prices, as the case may bo. 
The sawlila . This means the child's share, and is payable to the child 

of the person who gets the seipihra or sohra, or other 

prices, as the case may be. 

The sample marriage prices given later show all the prices 
in detail, with the amount payable on each according to 
the angkia rate of each price. 

There is a custom peculiar to Savang and the Zeuhnang 
villages called Hratuarawh. If a man's sister marries 


and he is entitled to a share in her price, but is so poor that 
he has no pig to kill with which to claim the price ; and if 
for a number of years he gives her the hind-leg of each wild 
animal he shoots or traps, he can claim a racha, a large 
earthenware pot or 10 rupees from her husband. 


Puma is the price payable to the bride's pupa, who is 
her maternal uncle. The rate at which puma is payable 
depends on the rate of the angkia, and if the angkia is 
60 rupees the rate of the pumamapi or main puma price is 
also 60 rupees. 

The pupa does not as a rule claim the puma on the 
marriage day, though he can do so if he likes, but he usually 
waits till the couple have settled down as man and wife. 

1. Pumamapi . The main price. 

2. Phavaw . Pumteks. 

3. Awruabawna The price to be paid first when the pupa kills a pig. 

4. Chanonghla. The price to be paid to the pupa's wife. 
6. Sawhla . The price to be paid to the pupa's child. 

6. Lokheu . This is payable to the pupa's pupa f and is different from 

the lokheu payable to the pupa on the marriage day. 

7. Pukeima . Payable to the pupa's friend. 

When all these prices have been paid, the pupa must give 
the bride an embroidered skirt and a white cloth, or 10 
rupees. This gift is called ngiateu, and on the day that he 
claims the puma, the pupa has to kill a pig of at least six 
fists. This pig is quartered ; the two fore-quarters and one 
hind-quarter are sent raw to the man who has to pay the 
price, and the remaining hind-quarter is cooked with rice 
and also sent. The man who has to pay the price, who is 
called tupapa, in his turn kills a pig of not less than four 
fists, and sends three-quarters of it raw and a quarter cooked 
to the pupa. The pupa then refuses to eat the meat sent 
him till the lokheu and the awruabawna are paid. These 
being duly paid, the pupa eats the meat, and as much as 
possible of the rest of the price is paid, and the balance left 
owing for payment by instalments. The pupa and his wife 
when they go to claim the puma take a number of friends 
with them, all of whom have to be given presents or ahlas, 


in the same way as is done when the angkia is claimed. The 
people who carried the pork and beer also receive certain dues. 
These are much the same as have already been described 
when dealing with the angkia, and are all shown in detail 
in the sample marriage prices given later. If the pupa and 
his nephew by marriage from whom he is claiming live in 
different villages, a further due, called adeuna, has to be 
given to the pupa, in consideration of his having had to 
come to another village to claim his due. 

Where a woman has several daughters and several 
brothers, the puma of the daughters is divided among the 
brothers, preference being given to the eldest brother, the 
youngest brother taking precedence over any brothers in 
between. 'Thus if a woman has three daughters and three 
brothers, each brother would receive the puma of one daugh- 
ter ; if there are only two daughters and three brothers, the 
eldest and youngest brothers each receive a puma, and each 
give a share to the middle brother ; if there is only one 
daughter, her puma goes to the eldest brother. 

In Savang and the other Zeuhnang villages there is a 
special custom regarding the payment of puma. If a pupa 
is very poor, and during the lifetime of his niece and her 
husband has been unable to kill a pig to enable him to claim 
his niece's puma, when his niece and her husband are both 
dead he can claim from his niece's son a gong of six spans 
in full payment of the puma. The niece's son cannot refuse 
to make this payment, and the pupa need not kill a pig to 
claim it. This custom is peculiar to Savang, and is known 
as Chhongchhireu. 


This means the mother's price. If the bride's mother 
and father have been divorced, it is payable to the bride's 
mother. If they are still married, it is payable to the bride's 
mother's sister. If the bride's mother has several sisters, 
she will select one of them to take this price. If the bride's 
mother's sister is dead, the price is taken by her son. The 
procedure for claiming this price is the same as has already 
been described when dealing with the other prices. The 


pig killed by the claimant must be of at least five fists in 
size, and the pig killed in return by the bridegroom must be 
of four fists. The claimant refuses to eat the pork until the 
awruabawna has been paid, and when this has been paid 
eats the pork and proceeds to claim the rest of the price. 
The price can be claimed either on the wedding day or later, 
and consists of the following : aivniabawna, nongcheumapi, 
chanonghla, sawhla. 

The people who carry the pork and beer and the cooks are 
given certain dues, but as a rule the claimant can take only 
two friends with her when she goes to claim the due, and these 
two get the chapawtokhai and chanongtokhai dues. In some 
villages it is customary for the claimant to take an elder or 
macha with her when she claims the price, in which case an 
elder's due or machahla will also be payable. The dues payable 
in different villages are shown in the sample marriage prices. 

If the claimant lives in a different village from the person 
who has to pay the due, adeuna and certain other ahlas 
are also payable. These are also shown in detail in 
the marriage-price tables. In Savang and the Zeuhnang 
villages a second price similar to that described above is also 
payable. It is called nonghrihra, and is payable to the bride's 
mother's younger sister. If the bride's mother has only one 
younger sister she gives this price to some female relation. 
The procedure for claiming this price is the same as already 
described, and details of the price are given in the marriage- 
price tables. 

The Nangcheu. 

The Nangcheu means the aunt's price, and is payable to 
the bride's eldest paternal aunt. When the price is claimed, 
a pig of four or five fists must be killed by the claimant. 
This pig is sent to the person who has to pay the price, half 
of it cooked and half of it uncooked, and he returns the gift 
by killing a pig and sending it in the same way to his wife's 
aunt, who is claiming the price. The same formalities are 
gone through ; the aunt refuses to eat the meat sent her 
till the awruabawna is paid, and on this being paid eats the 
meat and claims the other parts of the price. 


The price consists of the following : nangcheumapi, 
awruabawna^ chanonghla, sawhla. 

The dues payable to the cooks and carriers of meat and 
sahma are given in detail in the tables. The aunt is 
supposed to take only two friends with her when she goes to 
claim her dues, and these take the chapawtokhai and chano- 
ngtokhai dues. Where the aunt and her nephew by marriage 
live in different villages, adeuna and certain dhlas are also 
payable. These are all shown in the marriage-price tables. 
The aunt is also entitled to the price called tini, which must 
be claimed on the marriage day, and which has already been 

The AJilas. 

The minor dues payable to the chief, an elder, the cooks, 
beer-makers, water-carriers, etc., are known as ahlas. The 
custom regarding the payment of these ahlas varies in 
different villages, and this has been clearly shown in the 
tables. In Chapi, when the bride and bridegroom both 
belong to Chapi, no ahlas of any sort are paid. In Savang 
certain ahlas are payable even when both parties to the 
marriage live in Savang, and if the bridegroom belongs to 
another village certain additional dues can be claimed by 
the chief and elder. A reference to the marriage-price 
tables should make this quite clear, as it has been specifically 
stated what extra ahlas can be claimed if the bridegroom 
belongs to a separate village. 

The marriage price has been dealt with in considerable 
detail, as unless the details of each separate price are ex- 
plained it is very difficult indeed to make head or tail of a 
Lakher marriage-price case. It is impossible, for reasons of 
space, to give examples of marriage prices of every rate of 
angkia. 1 have given an example for each group of villages of 
a price at the highest and lowest angkia rates. Prices at 
intermediate angkia rates are on the same lines. I have not 
attempted to deal with chiefs' marriage prices ; their angkia 
rate is 100 rupees, but the actual prices paid vary a great deal, 
according to the position of the bride and bridegroom ; the 
general principle followed in chiefs' marriage prices is the same 


as already described, but there are more minor dues. The 
sample prices given are to all intents and purposes absolutely 
correct for the rate of angkia for which they have been worked 
out, though there may be slight differences in the minor dues 
in concrete cases. It must be remembered that though the 
prices are shown in rupees, the bulk of a price is always paid 
in kind, cash forming only a small proportion of the payments 
made. As, however, each article used for the payment of a 
marriage price has a fixed formal value, in dealing with 
marriage prices it is simplest to deal in rupees, and this is 
done by the Lakhers themselves, though in Savang an angkia 
rate is given in terms of gongs. 

No month is ana for marriages, but Thlazang and Chhipa 
are considered unfavourable, and as a rule people avoid 
getting married in these months. Thlazang is disliked 
because, being the beginning of the rains, the weather is 
dark and misty, which is supposed to have a bad effect on 
the future of the couple. Chhipa is avoided because chhi 
conveys an impression of evil which also may have un- 
fortunate reactions. All the other months are good, the 
best being Thlara, a bright month at the end of the rains. 

Dowry. Chanong Chaichi or Chanong Theukhei. 

A Lakher girl is seldom given a dowry when she marries, 
more often than not she has none. If a girl has any pro- 
perty, which is very rare, she takes it with her when she 
marries, but it makes no difference to her price whether 
she has any property or not. A girl usually goes to her 
husband's house with only one cloth. Any property owned 
by a woman is inherited by her daughter when she dies ; if 
she has no daughters her husband can keep it, but if he does 
so he must pay her ru. 

Jilting. Chanong Aparawtupa. 

If when a marriage has been arranged the girl breaks it 
off at the instigation of another man who persuades her to 
marry him instead, the man who induced the girl to break 
off the engagement is fined, except in Tisi, where the girl's 
parents are fined The amount of the fine varies. 


Tlongangma (Putting up Price). 

When a bride and bridegroom belong to different villages 
the bride and her parents have to put up for the days of 
the marriage ceremonies in the house of one of the bride- 
groom's fellow-villagers, and have to pay their host a fee 
of 10 rupees or a racha, which is known as tlongangma. In 
some villages this price has to be refunded if the girl after- 
wards divorces her husband, in others not, 

Elopement. Arakhei. 

If a young man elopes with a girl, he must pay her father 
a hmiatla or atonement price, which varies from 10 to 30 
rupees. This sum is not repayable if the girl afterwards 
leaves her husband. When the hmiatla has been paid the 
usual marriage ceremonies are performed and the customary 
price is paid. 





The Angkia and Its subsidiary 
prices. Taken by bride's 
father or brother. 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices. Taken by bride's 
pupa (maternal uncle). 

The Nongcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by bride's 
mother if she is divorced from 
the bride's father. If the 
parents are living together 
this price is taken by bride's 
mother's elder sister. 

, ,. fts- a. P. 
Angkia .... 70 
Seipihra . . . 60 
Chawcheu . . . 70 
Seuhta .... 70 
Seicheihra . . . 60 
Rahonghra . . . 40 
Dawkhanghra . . 40 
Lawngnahra . . 20 
Sisazi (three pum- 

Its. a. p. 
Pumamapi . . 70 
Awruabawna . . 40 
Phavaw (about 
seven pumteks] . 50 
Chanonghla . . 500 
Sawhla ... 300 
Lokheu . . . 10 
Thuasang (a spear) 
or 1 o 

Rs. a. p. 
Nongcheumapi 70 
Awruabawna . 10 
Chanonghla . 500 
Sawhla . . 300 
Chapawtokhai 100 
Chanongtokhai 100 
Chongtlapa 1 180 
11 i 
III 080 

teks) or ... 45 
Chinahra . . . 20 
Raipihra ... 500 
Sawhra .... 500 
Aseihra ... 300 
Lakeuto (a bracelet) 500 

Chapawtokhai . 100 
Chanongtokai . . 100 
Chongtlapa I . 180 
II . 1 
III . 080 
Sahwaphopu I L 8 

Sahmapfiopa 1 180 
II 100 
III 080 
Beichhangpa . 100 
Titfiaipa . . 100 

Raitahra ... 200 
Seitahra. ... 200 
Pakuhra ... 300 
Tehla .... 100 
Thuasang . . 100 

II . 1 
HI . 8 
Beichhangpa . . 100 
Tithaipa ... 100 

If the bridegroom belongs to a 

Awruabawna . . 40 
Leuchapahla . . 10 
Leuchaseihla (to be 
paid by bride's 
father) ... 200 
Chapawtokhai . . 100 
Chanongtokhai . . 100 
Chongtlapa I (cook) 180 


If the bridegroom belongs to 
a different village the addi- 
tional prices below can be 

different village, the addi- 
tional prices below can be 

Adeuna ... 100 
Abeihla . . . 10 
Machahla ... 10 
Chhiatlawng . . 100 

II .. 100 
III . 080 

Adeuna . . . 40 
Abeihla . . . 10 


II .100 
III . 080 
Betchhangpa . . 100 
Tithaipa ... 100 

Machahla . . . 10 
Chhiatlawng . . 200 


p;i n 

If the bridegroom belongs to a 
different village, the addi- 
tional prices below can also 
be claimed. 

Adeuna . . . 40 

Abeihla .... 10 

Machahla . . . 10 

Chhiatlawng . . 200 


Maximum payable, including extra dues to be paid if bride 
groom belongs to a different village. 1159/- 




The Nonghrihra and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by bride's 
mother's youngest sister. 

The Nangcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by bride's 
paternal aunt. 

The Tini. Taken 
bride's paternal 
partly by the bride 

partly by 
aunt and 

Us. a. p. 
Nonghrihramapi CO 
Awruabawna . 10 
Chanonghla . 500 
Sawhla ... 300 
Chapawtokhai . 100 
Chanongtokhai . 100 
Chongtlapa I . 180 
11 . 100 
111 080 
Sahmaphopa I . 180 
11 100 
III 080 
Beiehhangpa . 100 
Tithaipa . . 100 

Rs. a. p. 
Nangcheumapi 00 
Awruabawna . 500 
Chanonghla . 500 
Sawhla . . 300 
Chapawtokhai 100 
Chanongtokhai 100 
Chongtlapa I 180 
II 100 
III 080 
Sahmaphopa I 180 
II 100 
III 080 
Beiehhangpa . 100 
Tithaipa . . 100 

Kahmikiana . . 
Tinitheuna . . 
Chakewhakana . 
tieitidangna . . 
Sisai (ten strings 
of red beads) . . 
Nabari (a corne- 
lian) .... 
Kheitiri (a yellow 
bead) . . . 
Hrakhaw (brass 
belt) .... 
Tini pangphaw (a 
cloth). . . . 

is. a. p. 




coat) .... 
Peuchi (a skein of 


If the bridegroom belongs to a 
different village, the addi- 
tional prices below can also 
be claimed. 

Adeuna ... 500 
Chhiatlawng . . 100 

If the bridegroom belongs to 
a different village, the addi- 
tional prices below can also 
be claimed. 

Adeuna . . . 10 
Chhiatlawng . . 100 

blue thread) 
Hrokei (woman's 
comb) . . . 
Lara (a skein of 
white thread) . 
Sakia (five man's 
combs) . . . 
Pang (a cloth) 
Bawhrihra (raw 


1 4 



cotton) . . 
Chhongpang lakeu 


(bracelet) . . 
Thuasang (a dao) 
Aphi (a bamboo 
mat) . . . 
Baikal (a basket) 








The Angkfa and its subsidiary 
prices. Taken by bride's 
father or brother. 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices. Taken by bride's 
pupa (maternal uncle). 

The Nongcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by 
bride's mother if she ia 
divorced from the bride's 

father. If the parents are 

living together, this price is 

taken by bride's mother's 

elder sister. 

Its. a. p. 

Us. a. p. 

Us. a. p. 

Angkia ... 40 



Nongcheumapi 40 

Seipihra . . 


Awruabawna . 


Awruabawna . 10 

Chawcheu- . . 


Phavaw (five pum 


Chanonghla . 500 

Seuhra . . . 


teks) . . . 


Sawhla . . 300 

Seicheihra . . 
Rahonghra . . 



Sawhla . . 


Chongtlapa I . 180 
11 100 

Dawkhanghra . 


Ijokheu . . 


,, III 8 

*Lawngnahra . 
Sisazi (three pumte 
Raipihra . . 

*) 30 

Thuasang . . 
Leuchapa . . 
Chongtlapa I . 

1 8 

Chanongtokhai 100 
Chapawtokhai 1 
Sahmaphopa I 180 
IT 100 

Dawhra . . 


',' HI 


III 080 

Aseihra . . 
Lakeutohra . . 
Raitahra . . 
Seitahra . . . 


Sahmaphopa I 


Beichhangpa . 100 
Tithaipa . . 100 


Pakuhra . . 


" HI 


Tehla . . . 





Thuasang . . 


Tithaipa . , 


Awruabuwna . 


Leuchapa . . 



Leuchaseihla (liv 

piglets) . . 
Chanongtokhai . 
Chapawtokhai . 
Chongtlapa I . 


If the bridegroom belongs to 
a different village, the addi- 
tional prices below can be 

If the bridegroom belongs to a 
different village, the addi- 
tional price below can be 

,, 11 . 



Sahmaphopa I . 


Adeuna . . 

. 20 

Adeuna ... 500 

,, 11 



OQ 1\ 

Abeihla . . 

. 10 


Beichhangpa . 
Tithaipa . . 

o U 


Machahla . . 
Chhiatlawng . 

. 10 
. 200 



Maximum payable, including extra dues to be paid if bride- 


If the bridegroom belongs to a 

groom belongs to another village, Ks. 777 8 0, 

different village, the addi- 

tional prices below can be 


Adeuna . . . 20 

Abeihla .... 10 

Machahla ... 10 

Chhiatlawny ..200 


* Lawngnahra means the price payable instead of a diamond. Where the Lakhers learnt 
about diamonds I do not know, they do not now, at any rate, possess any. 




The Nonghrihra and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by 
bride's mother. 

The Nangcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by 
bride's paternal aunt. 

The Tini. Taken partly by 
bride's paternal aunt and 
partly by the bride. 

Rn. a. p. 
Nonghrimapi . 20 
Aivruabawna . 10 
Chanonghla . 5 
Sawhla . . 300 
Chongtlapa I . 180 
,, II . 100 
III . 08 
Satimaphopa 1 . L 8 
II 100 
,, III 080 
Chanongtokhai . 100 
Chapawtokhai . 100 
Beichhangpa . 100 
Tithaipa . . 100 

Us. a. p. 
Nangcheumapi 40 
Awruabawna . 10 
Chanonghla . 500 
Sawhla . . 300 
Chongtlapa I 180 
II 100 
III 080 
Sahmaphopa I 180 
II 100 
III 080 
Chanongtokhai 100 
Chapawtokhai 1 
Beichhangpa . 100 
Tithaipa . . 100 

Rs. a. p. 
Kahmikiana . . 500 
Tinitheuna . . 500 
Chakeichakana . 300 
Seitidanpna . . 300 
Sisai (ten strings 
of red beads) . 100 
Naba (a cornelian) 500 
Kheitiri (a yellow 
bead) ... 500 
Ilrakhaw (brass 
belt) .... 200 
Tinipangphaw (a 
cloth) ... 200 
Tinikohrei( woman's 

rftn 4-\ 1 ft ft 



Tinipeuchi (a skein 
of blue thread) 200 

If the bridegroom belongs to a 
different village, the addi- 
tional price below can be 

If pig killed on angkia day 
there will be adeuna 5 rupee?, 
otherwise nil. 

If the bridegroom belongs to 
a different village, the addi- 
tional price below can be 

Adeuna ... 500 

Larasawng (a skein 
of white thread) .100 
Hrokei (a woman's 
comb) ... 100 
Sakia (five man's 
combs) ... 140 
Tinipang (a cloth) 200 
Bawhrihra (raw 
cotton) . . 100 
Tini taken (brace 
let) . . 100 
Sibapatheuna 200 
Tinitlana 300 
Aphi (a bamboo 
mat) . . 100 
Baikal . 040 

47 8 





The Angkia and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's father or 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's pupa 
(maternal uncle). 

The Nongcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 
mother if she is separated 
from bride's father, other- 
wise by bride's mother's 

Us. a. p, 

Us. a. p. 

Us. a. p. 

Angkia .... 20 

Pumtek . . . 20 

Nongcheumapi . 20 

Awruabauma , . 10 

Nongcheu . . . 20 

Awuabawna . . 10 

Sisazi (three pumteks). 

Phavaw (three pumteks). 

Rahonghra . . 20 
Raipihra (an earthenware pot). 

Awruabawna , . 10 

Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the 

Raitahra (a small beer pot). 

Where the bridegroom belongs 

following extra dues can be 

Dawkhanghra (gong of seven 

to a different village, the 



following extra dues can be 

Meitheihra, (gong of seven spans, 


Adeuna . . . JO 

or any gong). 

Chanonghla . . 10 

Mipihra (she goat). 

Adeuna . . 10 

Sawhla (a brass 

Mitonghra (he goat). 

Abeihla . . 10 

pot) .... 200 

Chhotlaumg (a pumtek and a 

Machahla . . 700 

Abeihla . . . 30 

dead fowl). 

Chanongtokhai 300 

Machahla ... 700 

Chawcheu . . , 20 

Chapawtoktiai 400 

Chapawtokhai . 400 

Chongtlapa I 400 

Chanongtokhai . 300 

If five pigs are killed, a phavaw 

II 300 

Chongtlapa J . 4 

is payable to the brother of 

III 200 

II . 3 

the man who receives the 

IV 100 

,, III . 2 

angkia. H consists of a pum- 

Sahmaphopa I 200 

IV . I 

tek, a small brass gong and a 

H 100 

Sahmaphopa I 200 

dead fowl. 

Beichhangpa . 200 

11 . 1 

Tithaipa . . 100 

Beichhangj)a . . 200 

Where the bridegroom belongs 

Tithaipa ... 100 

to a different village, the follow 
ing extra dues can be claimed. 

Adeuna . 10 

Abeihla . . 10 

Machahla . 700 

Beireihla . 000 

NOTE. I have not totalled the price, as so much is paid in 

Chanongtokhai 300 

kind, but it is much less than in the other villages. 

Chapawtokhai 400 

Chongtlapa I 400 

II 300 

HI 200 

IV 100 

Sohmaphopa 1 . 200 

.,11 100 

Beichhangpa . 200 

Tithaipa . 100 

* The number of Chongtlapas given is the number employed if one pig is killed. If five pigs 
are killed there will be twenty Chongtlapas. 




The Nangcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by 
bride's paternal aunt. 

The Tini. Taken by bride's paternal aunt or rarely by 
maternal aunt. 

Us. a. p. 
Nangcheumapi . 20 

Rs. a. p. 
Tinitheuna 10 

Awmttbttwnd . 10 

Siscii (ten strings of red brads) . . .100 

Where the bridegroom belongs 

Tini ahnang (three cloths) 500 
Tini pangphaw (a skirt) 300 

to a different village, the fol- 

Hrokei (a comb) 100 

lowing extra duos ran be 

Tini vohTang (a piglet) . .100 


LttSttwnglttTtt (white thread) . 080 

Tini votaw (a piglet) 100 

Adeuna . . 500 

Tini takong (a dao) 100 

Chanonghla . 5 

Tini thuasang (a dao) 100 

SawJila 200 

Kohmilupahlevna 1 

Abeihla ... 10 

Kahmikiana 100 

Macfiahla 700 

Chakeichakana 040 

Chapawtokhai 400 

Lakeu (two bracelets) 300 

Chanongtokhai . 300 

Tini liana 040 

Chongtlapa I . 400 

Tini baikai 040 

II , 300 
III 200 
IV 100 
Sahmaphopa I , 200 
11 100 
JJeichhanopa , 200 
Tithaipa . . 100 

Pakoniana (the price of entering the door of the house an axe), 
Acholahmipangi (a pumtek bead to tie on to the mithun's tail). 
Setidangna (a brass pot in which water is given to the mitftun). 
Sahmaheidangna (a beer mug). 
Beihnanghra (in lieu of a chief's skirt). 
Khahnanghra (a skein of cotton), 
Cheulohra (in lieu of a chief's cloth some cotton). 
Viapanghra (In lieu of a blue embroidered cloth some cotton). 
Angchhong phangphaw (the price of the mats for sitting on, 
a cloth). 




The Anffkia and Its subsidiary 
prices, and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's father or 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's pupa (ma- 

The Nongcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 


ternal uncle). 

mother if she is separated 

from bride's father, other- 

wise by bride's mother's 


Rs. a. p. 

Rs. a. p. 

Rs. a. p. 

Anffkia .... 10 

Pumamapi . . 10 

Nongcheumapi . 10 

Awruabawna . . 10 

Nongcheu . . . 10 

Awruabawna . . 10 

Sitazi (three pum~ 

teks) .... 500 

Where the bridegroom belongs 

Where the bridegroom belongs 

7fciiitAra(abeprpot) 300 
Raitahra (a small 

to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra dues can be 

to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra dues can be 

beer pot) . . 200 



Dawkhanghra (a gong of what- 

ever size the bridegroom's 

Adeuna . . 10 

Adeuna . 10 

people may have). 
Rahonghra . . . 10 

Abeihla . . 10 
Machahla . . 700 

Chanonghla 300 
Sawhla . 200 

Mipihra (a she goat). 

Chapawtokhai 400 

Abeihla . 10 

Chotlawng (a brass pot of four 

Chanongtokhai 300 

Machahla . 700 

spans circumference). 

Chongtlapa I 400 

Chapawtokhai 400 

Chawcheu . . . 10 

II 300 

Chanongtokhai 300 

III 200 

Chongtlapa I 400 

Where the bridegroom belongs 

IV 100 

II 300 

to a different village, the fol- 

Sahmaphopa I 200 

III 200 

lowing extra dues cnn be 

II 100 

IV 100 


Beichhangpa . 200 

Sahmaphopa I 200 

Adeuna . . 10 

II 100 
Beichhangpa . 200 

Abeihla ... 10 

Tithaipa . . 100 

Machahla . . 700 

BireHUa . . COO 

Chanongtokhai . 300 

Chapawtokhai . 400 

* Chongtlapas (cooks are to be allowed for at the rate of four 

^Chongtlapa I. 400 

per pig killed). 

II 300 

HI 200 

NOTE. I have not totalled the price, as so much is paid in 

IV 100 
Sahmaphopa 1 . 200 

kind, but it is much less than in the other villages. 

II 100 

Beichhangpa . 200 

TMaipa . . 100 




The Nangcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by 
bride's paternal aunt. 

The Tini. Taken by bride's paternal aunt or rarely by 
maternal aunt. 

Us. a. p. 

Nangcheumapi . 10 
Awruabawna (only 

if a pig is killed) . 10 

Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra dues can be 

Sawhla . . 
Abeihla . . 
Machahla . 
Chongtktpa I 
> II 
Sahmaphopa I 

Tithaipa . 



Us. a. p. 

Tinitheuna 10 

Sisai (ten strings of red beads) 100 

Tiniahnangl 300 

II 100 

III 100 

Tini pangphaw (a cloth, also known as Tleuhmiapha- 
ngpfiaw, the price of placing a white cloth on the 

ground for the aunt to sit upon) 50 

Hrokei (a comb) 
Votawhra (a piglet) 
Takong (a dao) 

Tini thmsang (a lucky dao) ....... 100 

Kahmikiana ........... 100 

Chakeichakana .......... 100 

Lakeu (two bracelets) ........ 040 

Atlana ............. 300 

Baikai ............. 040 

Pakoniana (the price of entering the door of the house an axe). 
Acholahmipangi (a pumtek bead to tie on to the mithun's tail). 
Setidangna (a brass pot to give water to the mithun). 
Sahmaheidangna (a beer mug). 
Beihnanghra (in lieu of a chief's skirt). 
Khahnanghra (a skein of cotton). 
Cheulohm (in lieu of a chief's cloth some cotton). 
Viapanghra (in lieu of blue embroidered cloth some cotton). 
Angchhong phangpfiaw (a cloth the price of the mats for 
sitting on). 





The Angkia and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's father or 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's pupa 
(maternal uncle). 

The Nongcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 
mother if she is separated 
from bride's father, other- 
wise by bride's mother's 

Us. a. p. 
Angkia ... 60 
Chawcheu . . 30 
Seipihra . . 20 
Seicheihra . . 10 
Awruabawna . 20 
Sisazi (three jtutti/- 

Us. a. p. 
Pumamnpi . . 60 
Awruabawna . 20 
Phavaw (7 pum- 
teks) .... 20 
Nongcheu . . . 10 

Bs. a. p. 

Nongcheumapi . 15 
Awruabawna . . 10 
Chongtlapa I . . 200 
II .180 
Chanongviasa 100 

teks) ... 24 
Raipihra . 700 

Keima ... 200 
Lokheu (payable to 

29 8 

Raitahra . . 300 
Chanongtokhai , 300 
Chapawtokhai . 100 
Thuasang . , 100 
Vopihra 700 

pupa's pupa) . 700 
Chongtlapa I . . 300 
II .200 
,, III .180 

Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra dues can be 

Miptfira . , 300 
Mitonghra 200 

126 8 


Chongtlapa 1 . 30 
11 . 200 
lit 180 
,, IV . 180 

Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 

Abeihla ... 300 
Machahla ... 200 
Chapawtokhai . 200 
Keima a fowl or 200 

,, V 180 

Peichhangpa . 200 
Tithaipa . . 100 
Keima (two fowls) or 200 

claimed. . . 

Abeihla ... 700 
or a racha 

205 8 

Machahla ... 300 
Leuchapa . . 300 
Chapawtokhai . 200 

Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 


lowing extra dues can be 

Maximum mvahlfl. Inrliidinff i 

,hfi ovfra rhips If the 

Adeuna . . . 20 

Abeihla a racha or 700 

Machahla ... 300 

Leuchapa ... 400 


bridegroom belongs to another village. Ks. 463 12. 




The Nangcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices. Taken by 
bride's paternal aunt. 

In Tisi there is no 

The Tini. Taken by bride's paternal aunt or rarely by 
maternal aunt. 

Us. a. p. 

Tinitheuna 700 

Lava (a dao) 100 

Tkangchachaina (an axe) 100 

Kahmikiana 100 

Chakeichakana 100 

Aphia (a square of matting) 080 

Baikai (a basket) 040 

Heihnanghra (a skirt) 200 

Khahnanghra (a skirt) 100 

Zongleihra (a skirt) 100 

Zongchhohra, (a skirt) 100 

Bahreihra (a coat) 040 

Hrakohhra (brass belt) 300 

Chongchihm (brass belt) 200 

Sisaihra (10 strings of glass beads) 500 

Theisahra (a cornelian) 100 

Chhebihra (a string of white beads) 300 

Kihlong (a half conch-shell) 100 

Ilrokei (a comb) 200 

Sakia (a man's comb) 040 

Chanong hrokei (five woman's combs) .... 300 

Achateuna (a doth) 300 

Vohranghra (piglet) 100 

Atlana 300 

44 4 





The Angkia and Its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's father or 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's pupa (ma- 
ternal uncle). 

The Nongcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 
mother if she is separated 
from bride's father, otherwise 
by bride's mother's sister. 

Us. a. p. 
Angkia ... 30 
Chawcheu . . 15 
Seipihra . . 10 
Seicheihra (a bras 
pot of five spans) 500 
Awruabawna . 10 
Sisazi (pumteks) 15 
Raipihra . , 300 
Raitahra . . 200 
Chanonfftokhai . 300 
Chapawtokhai . 200 
Thuasang . , 100 
Vopihra (pig o 
three fists) or . 5 
Mipihra . . 300 
Mitonghra . . 200 
Chongttapa I . 300 
II . 200 
III J 8 
IV . 100 
,, V 080 
Beichhangpa . 200 
Tithaipa . . 100 
Sahmaphopa . 040 
Keima (a fowl) or 200 

Us. a. p. 
Pumamapi . . 30 
Awruabawna . . 10 
Phavaw (five pum- 
teks) .... 900 
Nongcheu (a brass 
pot of five spans) 400 
Thuasang ... 100 
Keima (two fowls) 200 
Lokheu (a brass pot 
of two spans or a 
Chongtlapa I . . 200 
II .180 
Chanongtokhai . 200 

Us. a. p. 
Nongcheitmapi 10 
Awruabawna . 500 
Chongtlapa I . 100 
II 180 
Chanonytokfiai 2 
Keima (two fowls) 200 

21 8 

Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra dues can be 

Abeihla ... 300 
Machahla ... 200 
Chapawtokhai . 200 
Leuchapa . . 200 

01 8 

Whore the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra dues can be 

Abeihla ... 500 
Machahla ... 300 
Chapawtokhai . 200 
Leuchapa . . 200 


tie extra dues payable if the 
r village. Us. 287 8 0. 

119 4 

to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra dues can be 


Maximum payable, including t 
bridegroom belongs to anothe 

Adeuna ... 10 
AbffiMa .... 500 
(or a brass pot of five spans). 
MachaMa ... 200 
Keima (a fowl) or . 200 




The Nangcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices. Taken by 
the bride s paternal aunt. 

The Tini. Taken by bride's paternal 
maternal aunt. 

aunt or rarely by 

In Tisl there IB no 

. . . 7 

a. p. 





. . . 1 


. . . 1 


. . . 1 


. . . 1 

Tini aphi (matt ing) 

. . . 

lidikdi (n basket) 

. . . 

J3dip(idin (a basket) 

. . . 4 

JBeihnang (a skirt) 


Kahnang (a skirt) 

. . . 1 

ZongleifiTd (a skirt) 

. . . 1 

ZonfjchhohTtt (a skirt) 

. . . 1 

Tini kohfd (a woman's coat) . 

. . . 

Hawmichongchahrei (a solder stick) 
Hrakhaw (a brass belt) 

. . . 3 

ChongcM (a brass belt) 

. . . 2 

Mipi hra. 
Sisai (ten strings of red beads) . 

. . . 5 

. . . I 

Chficbi (a string of boads) .... 


Kihlong (a half conch-shell) .... 

. . . 1 

Sakid (a man's comb) 

. . . 

Tinichateunci, . ... 

. . . 3 

Tini vofiTcing (a piglet) . 

. . 1 


. . . 3 

Urokci (a woman's comb) .... 

. . 1 









The Angkia and its subsidiary 
prices and the amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 
father or brother. 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's pupa 
(maternal uncle). 

The Nongcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices and amount 
of each. Taken by bride's 
mother if she is separated 
from bride's father, other- 
wise by bride's mother's 

Angkia . . 
Chawheu . 
Seicheihra . 
Sisazi (pumteks 
Aw ah . . 
Keima . . 
Thuasang . 
AbeiMa . . 
Chongtlapa I 

I', III 

Where the brid 
to a different 
lowing extra 


If taken by p 
Angkia, 20 n 
one of his brot 




Rs. a. p, 

Pumamapi . 
Phavaw I . . 
> II 

in . 

Lokheu, a racha o 
Keima . . 
ChanongUa . 
Sawhla . . 
Machahla . . 
AbeiMa . . 
Chongtlapa I . 

il III ! 

Rs. a. p. 
r 7 

Rs. a. p. 
Nongcheumapi 30 
Awruabawna 10 
Keima . . 200 
Lokheu . . 300 
ChanongUa . 200 
Sawhla . . 100 
Chapawtokhai 200 
Chanongtokhai 200 
Machahla . . 200 
Abeihla . . 300 
Chongtlapa I . 300 
II 200 


Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra due can bo 

Adeuna ... 300 

Adeuna, which is payable only 
Darate village. Rs. 633. 


oom belongs 
lage, the fol- 
ue can be 

. 10 

e, including 
longs to a se 


Where the bridegr 
to a different vil 
lowing extra d 

Adeuna . . 

Maximum payabl 
if bridegroom be 

3om belongs 
age, the fol- 
ue can be 


n who gets 
s, but if by 
, 30 rupees. 




The Nangcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices. Taken by 
bride's paternal aunt. 

The Tini. Taken by bride's paternal aunt or rarely by 
maternal aunt. 





Us. a. p. 
(a small fowl). 





. . . (beads). 





. , . 10 

Sawhla , 



Pangphaw (a cloth) 

... 300 

Lokheu . 


Tini ahnang (three skirts) .... 

... 300 





BeichhanQ ahnang (one skirt) . 

. . . 100 




Sisai (a string of thirty glass beads) 
Urokei (three brass hairpins) .... 

... 200 
... 300 

Machahla . 




Naba (a cornelian) 

... 100 




Mocheu (the bride's friend's due) 

. . . 200 

Chongtlapa I 



Rithu (paid to the man who chaperons 
while the tini is being claimed) 

the girls 
. . 200 

Tini votdw (a piglet) 

. . 100 





... 100 


(a puggree). 

Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra due can be 




When the aunt lias claimed all her dues, one of the young men 
gives her beer, and tells her that she cannot claim anything 
she has forgotten next day. 





The Angkia and its subsidiary 

The Puma and its subsidiary 

The Nongcheu and its sub- 

prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's father or 

prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's pupa 

sidiary prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 


(maternal uncle). 

mother if she is separated 

from bride's father, otherwise 

by bride's mother's sister. 

Us. a. T). 

Us. a. T). 

Ks. a. p. 

Angkia . . 


Pumamapi . 


Nongcheumapi 10 



Awruabawna . 


Awruabawna 500 

Chawcheu . 


Phavaw (two pum 

Keima . . 200 

Seicheihra . 


teks) . . . 


Lokheu . . 200 



Keima . . 


Chanonghla . 200 

Sisazi (two i 


Lokheu . . 


Sawhla . . 100 

teks) . . 


Chanonghla . 


Chanongtokhai 200 

Awh ah . . 




Chapawtokhai .200 





Machahla . . 200 

Lokheu . . 




Abeihla . . 200 

Keima . . 


Machahla . . 


Chongtlapa I . 300 

Thuasang . 


Abeihla . . 


3/1 n 

II 200 

Chanongtokha i 


Chongtlapa I . 

U U 



Machahla . 


\\ HI 


Chongtlapa I 



Where the bridegroom belongs 



to a different village, the fol- 



lowing extra due can be 

. _ 

Where the bridegroom belongs 



to a different village, the fol- 

- ; 

lowing extra due can be 

Adeuna ... 500 


Where the bridegroom belongs 

to a different village, the fol- 

lowing extra due can be 

Maximum payable including Adeunas, which are only payable 
if parties belong to different villages. Ks. 364 

Adeuna . . . 10 




The Nangcheu with its sub- 
sidiary prices. Taken by 
bride's paternal aunt. 

Tho Tint. Taken by bride's paternal aunt or rarely by ma- 
ternal aunt. 






Us. a. p. 

. . . 10 




Tini pangphaw (cloth) 

... 300 



Tini ahnang (three skirts) 


Lokheu . 


Beichhany ahnang (a skirt) .... 

. . . 100 

Chanonghla . 


Sisai (thirty strings of glass beads) . 

... 200 

Sawhla . 


Hrokei (three combs) 

... 300 




Naba (a cornelian) 

... 100 



Mocheu (for the bride's friend) . 

... 200 





Abeihla . 


Tini votciw (a piglet) 

. . 100 

Chongtlapa I 




... 100 




K dhmikitind 

. (a small fowl). 



. . . (beads). 



Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra due can be 

* This due is payable to the men appointed to watch the girls 
taking part in the Amakia to see that they behave themselves: 







The Angina and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's father or 

The Puma and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's pupa 
or maternal uncle. 

The Nongcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 
mother if she is separated 
from bride's father, other- 
wise by bride's mother's 

Anglda . 
Keuhra . 
Sisazi (three % 
teks) . 
Dawhra . 
Keima . 
Chongtlapa I 
>> n 

! m 

Abeihla . . 
Machahla . 

Where the brid 
to a different 
lowing extra 

Adeuna . . 
Abeihla . . 
Machahla . 



Us. a. p. 


Phamw (five pum 
teks) . . 
Chanonghla (a ra 
Lokheu I 


Chongtlapa I 

Where the bridegi 
to a different vil 
lowing extra d 
Adeuna . . 
Abeihla . . 
Machahla . . 

Maximum payal 
onlv if parties 

Rs. a. p. 
. 00 
- 30 


Us. a. p. 
Nongcheumapi 30 
Awruabawna . 15 
Chanonghla . 10 
Sawhla . . 300 
Chongtlapa I . 300 
,, II 200 
III 100 
Chapawtokhai 200 
Chanongtokhai 100 


Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra due can be 
Adeuna ... 10 

he extra dues which are payable 
irate villages. Rs. 737 4. 0. 


oom belongs 
lage, the fol- 
lies can be 

. 30 
. 300 


oom belongs 
ige, the fol- 
les can be 

. 30 
. 5 
. 300 



)le, Including i 
belong to sep 




The Nangcheu and its subsi- 
diary prices. Taken by bride's 
paternal aunt. 

The Tini. Taken by bride's paternal aunt or rarely by 
maternal aunt. 

Sawhla . . 
Chongtlapa I 

:: iS 


Where the brid 
to a different 
lowing extra 



Us. a. p. 



... 10 

a. p. 




Siscii (ten strings of red beads) 

... 5 

Tini ahnang 1 \ 
11 > (skirts) 

. . . 1 

;; nfr ; 

... 5 

Hrokei (three woman's combs) . . . 

... 2 
. . . 5 

VofiTttng (piglet) .... 

. . . 1 

Lara sawng (a skein of white tliread) . 
Lavana (a dao) 

... 1 
. . . 


)om belongs 
age, the fol- 
ue can be 


. . . 


... 3 

. . . 

Lakeu (bracelets) 



... 3 





- - 





The Angkia and its subsidiary 
prices and amount of each. 
Taken by bride's father or 

The Puma and Its subsidiary 
Prices and amount of each, 
'aken by bride's pupa or 
maternal uncle. 

The Nongcheu and its sub- 
sidiary prices and amount of 
each. Taken by bride's 
mother if she is separated 
from bride's father, otherwise 
by bride's mother's sister. 

Angkia . . 
Seipihra . 
Seicheihra . 
Chawcheu . 
Sisazi . . 
Raipihra . 
THwsang . 
Chongtlapa I 

!! HI 
Abeihla . . 
Machahla . 
Keima . 
Chaki . . 

Where the brld 
to a different 
lowing extra 



Us. a. p. 

Phavaw (thre 
pumteks) . 
Awruabawna . 
Chanonghla . 
Sawhla . . 
Lokheul . . 

Chongtlapa I . 
II . 
,. HI 
Beichhangpa . 
Sahmaphopa . 
Abeihla . . 
Machahla . 
Chaki . . . 

Where the bridcgr 
to a different vi 
lowing extra e 

Maximum payal 

Us. a. p. 


Us. a. p. 

Nongcheumapi 20 
Auruabawna 500 
Chanonghla 700 
Sawhla . 200 
Chongtlapa I 300 
U 200 
Chapawtokhai 200 
Chanongtokhai 100 


Where the bridegroom belongs 
to a different village, the fol- 
lowing extra due can be 

Adeuna ... 500 
Adeunas, which are payable to 


oom belongs 
lage the fol- 
ue can be 

. 10 
)le, including 


oom belongs 
age, the fol- 
ue can be 

. 10 

parties belong to different villages. Us. 405 12. 0. 
* Claimable with Angkia only when Seipihra, etc., given to brothers. 




The Nangcheu and subsidiary 
prices. Taken by bride's 
paternal aunt. 

The Tim'. Taken by bride's paternal aunt or rarely by 
maternal aunt. 

Us. a. p. 
Nangcheumapi 10 


Bs. a. p. 
. . 500 

AwTudbdwiyj, 500 

Sisai (ten strings of beads) 

. . 200 

Ckanonghto 700 

Tini ahnang (a skirt) 

. . 200 

Sawhla . 200 

Tini pangphttw (a skirt) 

. . 300 

Chongtlapa I 300 

Hrokei (a brass comb) 


, II 200 

Sdkid (two men's brass combs) 

. . 100 

Cfiapawtokhai 200 


. . 300 

Chtinongtokhdi 100 

Vohranghra (piglet) 

. . 100 



. . 080 

Tini thuasang 

. . 080 



. . 100 

_ , , . . .. , 1 


. . 040 

Lakeu (bracelets) 

. . 040 


. . 200 


. . 040 

Adeuna ... 500 

23 12 


Concubines. Nongthang. 

Many Lathers keep concubines as well as their married 
wife, as they find them useful for work of all kinds, both in 
the fields and in the house, and it is quite common to find 
men with two or three concubines. 

As a rule concubines are taken after marriage, but 
occasionally men take a concubine before getting formally 
married. Where a concubine is taken prior to marriage it 
is usually because the man has not enough money to pay the 
price of a high-class bride ; and so he takes as a concubine 
a girl of an inferior clan with a low price, and postpones his 
marriage till he has saved enough money to buy a bride of 
a high clan. A concubine's price depends on her clan, and 
is the same as that of a regular wife, but the amakia ceremony 
cannot be performed in the bridegroom's house if he is 
already married, but must be performed in his brother's or 
some other relation's house. The Miapali sacrifice is also 
performed in the house where the amakia is held. In 
Savang the latter part of amakia is performed on the plat- 
form outside the house, and the Miapali sacrifice is made 
in the street. A concubine is regarded as inferior to a 
married wife, and suffers various disabilities. Concubines 
cannot take part in the Khazangpina and Zangda sacrifice 
or in the Nawhri sacrifice for a legitimate child, and it is 
believed that if a concubine did attend any of these sacrifices 
her husband or one of his children would die. They have to 
sleep on the floor, and may not occupy the big bed or 
rakhong. In some villages they are not allowed to give 
birth to their children inside the house, but must do so on 
the verandah, or, as in Chapi, in a small hut built for the 
purpose ; in other villages, as in Savang, they give birth 
inside the house, but in a different place from that which 
is used for the accouchement of the married wife. In Chapi 
it is believed that if a concubine gives birth to a child inside 
the house, either her child or one of the legitimate children 
will die. When a child is born to a concubine, the mother 
must perform the Nawhri sacrifice herself the father will 
take no part in it at all. In Savang, when last I was there, 


only one man, called Idong, had a concubine, a very different 
state of affairs from that existing in the other villages. 


A woman is said to be satawreu if when she dies she has 
had no children or if she has actually had children and they 
have predeceased her. 1 In all the Tlongsai and Hawthai 
villages, if a woman dies satawreu her relatives can claim 
only half of the balance of the price due, and that only if 
they have prior to her death killed the requisite number of 
pigs to enable them to claim. If a woman dies after having 
had children, and the children are alive, the whole balance 
of the price for which pigs have been killed can be claimed. 
This custom does not apply in Savang and the Zeuhnang 
villages, where the price must be paid in the customary 
way whether a woman has had children or not, provided 
pigs are killed as required. In Chapi and the other Sabeu 
villages if a woman is satawreu her puma is reduced by half, 
her nangcheu and nongcheu cannot be claimed at all, but her 
angkia and sisazi must be paid as usual. Satawreu may be 
compared with the Lushei custom of ihisenpallo? 


When a chief or rich man marries a girl from another 
village, the girl's parents often erect a pyramid of stones 
called a longtang to commemorate the event. Such 
memorials are usually constructed on a hill or by the side 
of a river on the path between the two villages. Stones are 
piled up in the shape of a pyramid around a living tree, 
which is left to grow out of the middle of the pyramid, the 
height of which is about 4 to 5 feet. The bride's procession 
approaches the tree chosen, playing on gongs and drums. 
When it reaches the tree a halt is made, and the young 
men collect stones and build up the pyramid ; the proces- 
sion then wends its way to the bridegroom's village. A 
man who erects a longtang in honour of his daughter's 

1 Cf. The Thado custom of dumditman, " the price of a tobacco pouch " 
(Shaw, op. cit., p. 61.) J. H. H. 

2 Cy. Parry, Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, p. 38. N. E. P. 


wedding must kill at least six pigs for the wedding feast. 
If ten pigs are killed, the father is said to have done the Ah 
ceremony in honour of his daughter. This ceremony has 
no religious significance, but both father and daughter 
acquire honour thereby, and the father can claim from the 
bridegroom an extra price called ahma, which is a cow 
mithun, or 60 rupees, if the father is a chief, and a gong of 
eight spans, or 40 rupees, if he is a noble (phangsang). 
Commoners (machhi) never have ten pigs to kill, and so 
cannot be Ah. The meat of the pigs killed is given to the 
bridegroom ; the memorial pyramid is thereafter known by 
the name of the bride, e.g. Nongkei longtang if the girl's name 
is Nongkei. There is a longtang between Chakang and Sat- 
long called Thlachai longtang, and another between Savang 
and Khongpai, and a third between Siata and Tisi called 
Machia longtang, after Machia, daughter of the chief of 
Khabong, and wife of Hmonglai, late chief of Savang. 

It is not necessary to erect a longtang in order to perform 
Ah ; any one who kills ten pigs for the wedding feast can 
do Ah and claim ahma. It is only, however, very well-to-do 
people who can afford the ten pigs. 


When a man marries a girl from another village, on the 
amakia day the bride's party sacrifice a fowl on the road for 
the health of all persons taking part in the marriage. This 
sacrifice is called laawha, and the bridegroom has to give 
the sacrificer a brass pot of four spans circumference. 


In Chapi when a girl marries a man from another 
village, the bachelors who used to sleep in her house have 
to give her a present of beer, and in return the bridegroom 
gives each of them a brass pot of four spans circumference. 
This custom used to be in vogue in all the villages ; nowa- 
days it survives only with the Sabeu. 


If after a marriage has been arranged, but before amakia, 
the bridegroom jilts the girl, he must pay her a fine equal 


to her angkia, and also a vopia to the chief and elders. This 
applies among all the tribes, but among the Sabeu no vopia 
is taken. When the fine is claimed, three presents, called 
nanghlo, must be paid by the man fined to the persons 
accompanying the claimant. These consist of two brass 
pots of four and three spans circumference, respectively, 
and a hen. 


Divorce among Lakhers is easy, and a man who wants to 
divorce his wife can do so at any time, provided he complies 
with certain formalities, while a woman can likewise divorce 
her husband. Divorces, however, are less common than 
among the Lusheis. This is chiefly due to the high rate of 
marriage price, though I think also that Lakhers are less 
unstable in their affections and less liable than the Lusheis 
to turn to divorce on the flimsiest pretext. 1 It is more 
common to find a husband divorcing his wife than a wife 
her husband, as a woman's relations always bring pressure 
on her to remain with her husband, as they do not want to 
have to refund her price ; even so, the Lakher divorce 
custom is more favourable to women than the Lushei. 
There are several different forms of divorce. 


This is the form of divorce used when a man divorces his 
wife, and is similar to the Lushei mak. The custom varies 
slightly in different villages. 

In the Saiko and Siaha Tlongsai groups, and in Tisi and 
the Hawthai villages, when a man divorces his wife her 
relations are entitled to keep all the price which has actually 
been paid, and the husband must pay any balance of the 
price for which pigs have been killed. The woman's rela- 
tions cannot, however, claim payment of any part of the 
price for which pigs have not been killed. It makes no 
difference whether the woman has had any children or not. 

In Savang and the other Zeuhnang villages, if a man 

1 For Lushei divorce customs, vide N. E. Parry, A Monograph on Lushai 
Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 42-49. N. E. P. 


divorces his wife before she has had any children, the woman's 
relations are entitled to keep all the price that has been paid 
to them. If on the marriage day the angkia, sisazi and 
auuruabawna have been paid in full, nothing more can be 
claimed from the husband, even though pigs may have been 
killed for other parts of the price. If, however, the angkia, 
sisazi and awmabawna were not paid on the marriage day, 
even though certain other prices were, these three prices 
must be paid. 

If a man divorces his wife after she has had children, the 
wife's relations keep the whole of the price that has been 
paid, and can claim any balance for which pigs have been 
killed. No balance for which pigs have not been killed can 
be claimed, however. 

In Chapi and the Sabeu villages, when a man divorces his 
wife, her relations keep whatever has been paid, and can 
claim the angkia and sisazi if pigs have been killed for them, 
but nothing else. The same custom applies whether or not 
the parties have had children. 

Sawng Pakua. 

This is the form of divorce followed when a woman 
divorces her husband, and is equivalent to the Lushei 

In the Saiko and Siaha Tlongsai groups, and in Tisi and 
the Hawthai villages, the same custom is followed. If a 
woman divorces her husband before she has had any children, 
the whole of the price paid must be refunded to the husband, 
and compensation can be claimed by the woman's relatives 
for the pigs they have killed when claiming the price. 

If a woman divorces her husband after she has had 
children, the whole of the price paid must be refunded to 
the husband except the angkia, which the woman is entitled 
to keep in consideration of having had children. The 
children go to the husband ; if the angkia were refunded they 
would belong to their mother's relations, and would go to 
their pupa or mother's brother. As a rule the husband 
prefers to keep his children and the woman's relations keep 
the angkia. In Tisi, in addition to refunding the price as 


explained, the woman has to pay a fine of a sow to her 
husband ; this fine is called songthithu. 

In Chapi, when a woman divorces her husband, whether 
before or after she has had children, her relations must 
refund the whole price paid except the angkia and sisazi. 
If the woman's relatives have killed pigs for these two prices 
and they have not been paid, they can claim them from the 
husband. When a woman divorces her husband, if at any 
time she has received a hmiatla from him on account of a 
quarrel, she must refund to him the amount she received 
as hmiatla or atonement price, which is contrary to the 
custom of all the other groups. The children go to their 

In Savang if a woman who has no children divorces her 
husband, the whole price must be refunded except the 
awmabauma. No compensation can be claimed for pigs 
killed when claiming the price. 

If the woman has children and the father takes the 
children, the woman can keep the whole price paid, but 
cannot claim any balance. If the husband does not want 
his children, the whole of the price must be refunded, and 
the children become pupasaw that is, are taken by the 
woman's brother, and become his children for all practical 

In all the villages, when a woman divorces her husband, 
all the persons who received presents (ahla) at the wedding 
have to refund them. The only exception to this is that 
among the Zeuhnang, the cooks (chongtlapa) keep the presents 
they received, though all other recipients have to refund 

Khuthi (Impotence). 

When a man is impotent and is unable to perform his 
conjugal duties, the wife can claim a divorce. Before the 
wife can obtain her divorce, however, the man is allowed a 
certain period, which varies in the different villages, but is 
usually a year, during which to perform sacrifices in order to 
recover his lost powers. If at the expiration of the period 
agreed on the man is still impotent, the woman is entitled 


to a divorce and to keep all the price she has received ; she 
cannot, however, claim any unpaid balance of the price. 
During the period allowed for performing sacrifices, if the 
woman leaves her husband she is held to have divorced him, 
and will have to refund her price, according to the custom 
of sawng pakua. If during this period the woman has 
intercourse with another man, she is treated as an adulteress, 
and her price will be dealt with as shown under aphei. 

If a woman accuses her husband of being khuthi and he 
denies it, an old woman is put to watch them and report. 
If this old woman finds that the man is not impotent, the 
wife is ordered to live with her husband, and if she refuses 
to do so is dealt with as sawng pakua. Khuthi may be 
compared with the Lushei zangzaw. 1 

Hrupathlei hasala (Divorce on Account of Madness). 

In the Saiko, Savang and Siaha groups, and in Kiasi the 
custom is as follows : 

If a man's wife goes mad he must perform sacrifices for 
a year, and if after that she is still mad, and he no longer 
wants to keep her, he can send her back to her family, the 
price paid for the woman being retained by the people who 
received it. In Savang and the other Zeuhnang villages, 
if the angkia, sisazi and awruabawna have not been paid, 
though pigs have been killed for them, the woman's relations 
can claim them, but not in the other villages. If a man goes 
mad his brothers perform sacrifices for him for a year, and 
during that year his wife must remain with him. If he is 
still mad at the end of the year, his wife can leave him, and 
the price paid will be retained by her relatives, but they 
cannot claim any outstanding balance. 

In Chapi and the Sabeu villages, if a husband goes mad, 
the wife can leave him, and her relatives will keep the whole 
of the price paid for her and can claim the angkia and 
sisazi. If the madman has brothers, one of his brothers can 
claim to marry his wife on payment of one fowl for awrua 
and one pumtek, and will also have to pay the outstanding 

1 Of. Parry, op. cit., p. 47. N. E. P. 


balance of the price. The madman's wife can refuse to marry 
the brother if she likes. 

If a wife goes mad she returns to her brothers, who keep 
any price that has been paid, but cannot claim any balance 
except angkia and sisazi if the requisite pigs have been 

In Tisi, if a man goes mad and has brothers, one of his 
brothers will marry the madman's wife, provided she is 
agreeable, and will merely have to pay the balance of her 
price. If the madman has no brother available, or if his 
wife prefers to do so, she can return to her relations, who in 
these circumstances keep whatever has been paid them for 
her price, but cannot claim any balance. If a man's wife 
goes mad, she simply returns to her brothers, who keep 
whatever has been paid of her price, but cannot claim any 

Aphei (Adultery). 

Adultery is considered very disgraceful, and a woman 
caught in adultery is as a rule turned out at once by her 
husband. It is not at all a common offence, as after marriage 
Lakher women keep very straight indeed. The ordinary 
custom is that if a woman commits adultery her whole price 
must be refunded to her husband, and the co-respondent 
must pay a fine in cash plus a pumtek bead, known as sisaku- 
chakhi, and a cloth known as a panglukhu to the injured 
husband, and also a vopia to the villagers. If the adulteress 
has children, she is allowed to keep the angkia only as the 
price of her children. 

The fine inflicted on the co-respondent is in Siaha, Kiasi 
and Saiko a mithun or 60 rupees ; in Chapi a fine equal to 
the amount of the woman's angkia ; in Savang three gongs 
of eight, seven and six spans respectively or 70 rupees. 
The reason why a co-respondent is fined a panglukhu cloth 
and a sisakuchakhi pumtek is as follows. It is considered 
very disgraceful for a man if his wife has committed adultery. 
This disgrace follows him even to the next world, and when 
his spirit arrives in Athikhi, the abode of the dead, it feels 
great shame, and so the co-respondent has to provide the 


panglukhu, literally " the cloth to wear on the head," for 
the injured husband's spirit to cover its face with when it 
reaches Athikhi. The sisakuckdkhi is a pumtek worn as a 
bracelet. One explanation as to why this pumtek bead has 
to be given to a cuckold is that the spirit of a man whose 
wife has committed adultery is like the spirit of a woman, 
and to show this wears a bracelet in Athikhi ; another is that 
the bead is given to console the spirit for having been robbed 
of its wife. When a spirit with a bracelet on its arm and 
a cloth over its head arrives in Aihikhi, all the other spirits 
call out, " Lo, here is a man whose wife was an adulteress," 
and all know that the unfortunate spirit was a cuckold. The 
co-respondent is in a much happier position. It is a source 
of great pride for a man to have succeeded in overcoming 
the virtue of another's wife, and so when he dies his spirit 
wears a white cock's tail-feathers in its hair. When a spirit 
arrives with white plumes in its hair, all the dwellers in 
Athikhi know that this is the spirit of a man who made a 
conquest of a married woman, and respect it greatly on that 
account. As soon, therefore, as any one who has made 
another a cuckold dies, his relations place these feathers in 
his hair, and when he is buried they are tied on the top of 
the memorial post. 



THE Lakhcrs believe that the destinies of the universe 
are in the hands of one God, who is known as Khazangpa, 
or Khazangleutha, or Pachhapa, the creator of the world. 1 
Khazangpa is generally believed to live in the sky, though 
sometimes a Lakher will tell one that he does not know 
where Khazangpa lives, and the Chapi people say that he 
lives on the high mountains called Khisong. Khazangpa 
means literally the father of all, being derived from khapa 
zeudua, meaning everything. The alternative name, Pach- 
hapa, means the old man, or the source, presumably the 
source of life. 

This god has full power over men, and can make them 
prosperous or the reverse, as he likes. He resembles the 
Lushei Pathian, but the Lakhers pay more attention to 
Khazangpa than the Lusheis do to Pathian, and regard him 
as more powerful than the leurahripas, who are the spirits of 
the mountains, pools and woods. The most important 
Lakher sacrifice, the Khazangpina, is offered to Khazangpa, 
but I do not know of any special sacrifice offered by Lusheis 
to Pathian. Khazangpa is possessed of all human attributes : 
he has a wife and child, though these latter have no names 
and are not referred to in the Khazangpina chant ; he eats 
food and drinks beer like any human being. Khazangpa is 
a just and benevolent being, who is believed to deal with 
men according to their works. Proud and quarrelsome men 
who oppress the poor are called by the Lakhers thatlongbireu 
(boasters, because of their power), while men who speak the 
truth, act in all things according to custom and are kindly 

1 The name Khogein Pootteeang given by John Macrae in his " Account 
of the Kookies or Lunctas," Asiatic Researches, Vol. VIT, 1801, seems to be 
a combination of the Lakher Khazangpa and the Lushei Pathian. N. E. P. 



disposed towards their neighbours are called thlochhibireu 
(those who speak kindly), and it is believed that Khazangpa 
punishes the former by cutting short their lives, while he 
rewards the latter with long life and riches. While Kha- 
zangpa is the supreme god, every person is believed to have 
a sort of tutelary deity or guardian angel, known as Zang. 1 
Lakhers do not know exactly where the zang lives, but they 
say that it is always in close proximity to the being of whom 
it is in charge, and follows him about wherever he goes. 
To propitiate this guardian angel the Zangda sacrifice is 
performed. If a zang is well pleased with the person it has 
charge of, it can make him happy, healthy, and prosperous, 
grant him children and protect him from accidents, and so 
the zang must be propitiated with sacrifices, lest it become 
displeased with its charge and neglect to watch over him 
and even punish him. 

A man's zang is believed to be of the male and a woman's 
of the female sex, and it is further believed that if a man's 
and a girl's zang take a liking to each other, that man and 
girl will marry. A zang does not cause death, but if a 
zang is displeased with the person it is in charge of, it 
hands him over either to Khazangpa or to the leurahripas to 
kill. What happens to a man's zang when he dies is not 
known ; some Lakhers say that it dies also. The leurahripas 
are evil spirits or demons, the more powerful of whom live 
in the Khisongs, which are high mountains, steep cliffs, 
deep pools, precipices or ponds. The whole world, how- 
ever, is full of lesser leurahripas, who come into contact 
with man in all his doings. The leurahripas are generally 
evil, and like to seize men and kill them. All sickness is 
believed to be caused by leurahripas, and for this reason they 
have to be propitiated with frequent sacrifices, They are 
jealous of men's possessions, and have a habit of making 
men ill in order to force them to sacrifice their animals in 
hope of a cure. Some leurahripas, however, are benevolent, 
and all are capable of beneficent action on occasions if a man 

1 This zang appears to correspond to the Angami rop/u, a man's guardian 
angel, familiar, fate, soul, or the Chang mughka (lit. = (that which is) from 
the sky), which is used for a man's fate, or soul, as distinct from his ghost 
sou (=Lakher saw). J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 351 

is successful in propitiating them ; but Lakhers live in 
constant dread of them, and spend much of their substance 
in bribing the leurahripas to leave them in peace. The spirit 
who dwells on Mawma, the lofty peak above Siata, is one 
of the few kindly spirits. During the great flood this spirit 
was in charge of all wild animals, and to this day holds sway 
over them ; it is said that no stranger ever visits Mawma 
without shooting game, as the spirit is fond of hunters and 
helps them in their quest. 

The Chapi people hold that Khazangpa dwells in the 
Khisongs, and when they sacrifice to a Khisong, the sacrifice 
is intended for Khazangpa rather than for a leurahripa. 
This belief is not found among the other Lakher tribes, who 
all regard the Khisongs as abodes of leurahripas only. 
When standing near a Khisong, the name of the Khisong 
must not be uttered, as it is disrespectful to do so, and men- 
tion of its name would annoy the spirit. A Khisong should 
be referred to as azinong, which means chieftainess. Leura- 
hripas sometimes quarrel and fight, and such fights are 
believed to be the cause of hurricanes. Believing, as they do, 
in these countless supernatural beings who may at any time 
exercise an influence on their lives, it is not to be wondered 
at that Lakhers are bound to offer propitiatory sacrifices 
and to consult the fates at every important occasion in their 
lives. Sacrifices must be performed at births, marriages 
and deaths. In time of sickness almost the only remedy 
known is a sacrifice, and at every stage of agricultural 
operations sacrifices must be performed to avert the jealousy 
of the spirits. Necessarily superstitions abound ; it is 
unlucky to do certain things, and to do others is forbidden, 
and when any breach of the numerous prohibitions takes 
place, the only chance of averting misfortune is by perform 
ing a sacrifice. 

The Soul. 

A man's soul resembles his body in appearance and size, 
but is invisible. During the day the soul lives inside the 
body, which it enters by the mouth, but at night, during 
sleep, the soul sometimes leaves its body and wanders about ; 


a link called hu in the shape of an invisible cord remains, 
however, between the soul and the body, and on the sleeper 
awakening the soul returns. It is because souls roam about 
in this way that dreams arise, and as souls in their wander- 
ings are able to foresee future events, dreams often come 

Souls are of two kinds. The ordinary soul is called 
thlapha ; l some people, however, are afflicted with mis- 
chievous souls, which, while wandering about when their 
owner is asleep, maltreat and go out of their way to annoy 
others ; such souls are called thlachhi. If a man dreams that 
he is being beaten, or pushed into the water, or otherwise 
annoyed by one of his friends, he knows that his friend has 
a thlachhi. Thlachlii often enter into pigs and fowls, and 
when this happens the animal possessed gives out a peculiar 
noise. Lakhers listen carefully to this noise, to see if they 
can recognise whose thlachhi has possessed the animal from 
its voice. 

No resentment is felt at the freaks committed by thlachhi, 
as it is recognised that the body is not responsible for the 
vagaries of these mischievous souls. Thlachhi have the 
power, after their bodies have died, of returning from the 
abode of the dead and making nuisances of themselves 
whenever they like. There is no cure for thlachhi. 

When any one falls ill, it is due to his soul having been 
seized and detained by Khazangpa or a leurahripa, so, as 
soon as sickness occurs, a sacrifice must be performed to the 
god or spirit that is believed to have imprisoned the soul. 
This sacrifice, however, is useless unless it is made to the 
deity which is actually in possession of the soul, and if 
sacrifice is offered to the wrong deity, the link (hu) connecting 
the soul with the body is snapped and the sick person dies. 
If, however, the sacrifice is directed rightly, the deity which 
has impounded the soul restores it to its body and the sick 
person recovers. It is owing to the difficulty of ascertaining 
whether Khazangpa or one of the numerous leurahripas is 

1 Thla-pha appears to be the Thado thilJia apha = " a good spirit," the 
difference between the two kinds of soul therefore is perhaps merely moral 
and individual, and not generic. J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 353 

responsible for the illness that so many sacrifices are of no 
effect. Sometimes a sick man can tell from his dreams what 
leurahripa has seized his spirit, as if he dreams that he is 
on the Kolodyne river he knows that his soul has been caught 
by the Kolodyne leurahripa^ and if he dreams that he is on 
some mountain-top, he knows that it is the leurahripa 
dwelling on that mountain that is holding his soul confined, 
and directs his sacrifice accordingly. If all other means fail, 
in order to find out the correct sacrifice to ensure the sick 
person's recovery, a ceremony called Litang is sometimes 
performed. Certain people known as litangthaipa are 
believed to have the power of ascertaining what sacrifice is 
required, and when a sick person's relative wants to find out 
what sacrifice to offer, he places a little rice in the invalid's 
right hand, takes some of this rice, and goes off to the 
litangthaipa and asks his advice. 

The litangthaipa takes a pellet bow, holds it by its string, 
places some of the rice on the stave, and then calls upon 
the spirits, asking them what sacrifice should be performed, 
naming each sacrifice in turn. As soon as the correct 
sacrifice is mentioned, the bow is said to swing backwards 
and forwards, and the sacrifice so indicated must then be 
performed. 1 

In dealing with Lakher religious observances, three terms 
will be constantly cropping up namely, Ana, Pana, and 
Aoh ; it will be convenient, therefore, to explain these terms 
before going any further. 


Ana means anything that is forbidden. 2 It may be ana 
to do certain things, to say certain things, to see certain 
things, to touch certain things, or to go to certain places. 
If the prohibition is disregarded, it is believed that the 
person defying the prohibition will die or be unlucky. Ana 
has also a positive side, and it is ana to omit to do certain 

1 Cf t Playfair, The Garos, p. 97. The Garos follow a similar practice. 
N. E. P. 

2 Serna chini, Angami kenna (whence the expression " genna " commonly 
used for tabu in Assam.) J. H. H. 

2 A 


things. When a woman dies in child-bed, an aoh must be 
held, or else it is ana for the whole village. It is also ana 
if an aoh is not held after an unnatural death. In the former 
case the holding of the aoh is believed to avert from the other 
women in the village the danger of dying in child-bed, and 
in the latter to avert from the men the danger of an un- 
natural death. When an unnatural death takes place, the 
other people in the village fear that they will suffer the same 
fate, and so an aoh is held to avert it. The breach of a 
village aoh is ana only for the people who break it, and it 
is believed that the people who break the aoh will be un- 
lucky. The breach of the aoh by one or two people does 
not affect the people who observe it, but if a village failed 
to hold an aoh when the occasion demanded it, misfortune 
would fall upon the village as a whole. Ana is practically 
the same as the Lushei thianglo and the Garo marang. 
The Lakhers strictly observe the numerous anas with 
which they are encumbered, but the Lusheis are fast losing 
their belief, and most of them have no scruple in doing 
things that twenty-five years ago would have been re- 
garded with horror. The anas are really the Lakher 
equivalent to the Ten Commandments, and though to 
Western minds many of the prohibitions may appear absurd, 
some of them are of undoubted social value, and are no 
more illogical than most of our own superstitions. Thus 
it is ana to shift the boundary of another man's field, it is 
ana to throw weeds into another's field, it is ana to steal 
eggs, it is ana for a woman to give birth to a child in another 
person's house, and all these prohibitions and many others 
are sound, as they prevent people from causing incon- 
venience to others. Lushei Christians are by way of having 
given up all their superstitions, yet they have introduced 
new prohibitions just as little based on reason as the old. 
The Sabbath is very strictly kept, and a quite senseless 
prohibition has been introduced, which is observed even by 
the Welsh and English missionaries. Christians are strictly 
prohibited from moving from one place to another on 
Sunday ; thus a Christian who is on a journey may not 
move, say, from Aijal to Neiboi, a matter of ten miles, on 

iv RELIGION 355 

a Sunday, and if he did so would be subjected to church 
discipline ; if, however, he likes to go from Aijal to Neiboi 
and return to Aijal the same day, thus doing twenty miles 
on a Sunday, he has done no wrong, and would incur no 
penalty. None of the Lakher anas is as illogical as this 
prohibition, which, to my personal knowledge, is observed 
by missionaries in the Lushai Hills. The Lakher anas are 
the natural outcome of the mode of life and surroundings 
of the people, who are like children, and, believing in the 
omnipresence of gods and demons, naturally take precau- 
tions so as not to offend them. The prohibitions are not 
artificial, and so are entitled to respect ; though many may 
seem foolish one must consider their origin before passing 
judgment, and must allow full credit for their beneficent 
social effect. The anas I have referred to above are of more 
general application, and impinge more directly and 
obviously on the social than on the religious life of the people, 
though the religious idea is there in the background all the 
time. When a man performs a sacrifice he is pana from the 
beginning of the sacrifice to the end of the aoh. It is ana 
for such a man to go out of his house and to meet any one, 
and it is equally ana for any one else to enter his house 
while he is pana, as did any one enter all the good effects 
of the sacrifice would be destroyed. Here the ana has a 
purely religious side the sacrificer is forbidden to do certain 
things lest he offend the god to whom he has sacrificed, and 
other people are forbidden to do certain things lest they 
spoil the sacrifice offered. The converse of this is found 
in the case of Parihrisang, w T here, though the entry of a 
stranger into the sacrificer's house while he is pana has no 
evil effect on the sacrifice, the stranger himself who broke 
the ana by entering the sacrificer's house in breach of the 
ana is liable to suffer sickness, which he may catch from 
entering the house. 

Pana and Aoh. 

When a man has performed a sacrifice, he and his family 
are pana from the time of performing the sacrifice till dawn 


next day, or, if an aoh is imposed, till the end of the aoh. 
When a man is pana on account of a family sacrifice, he 
may not do any work and may not go outside his house. 
The women may not weave, the only work they may do is 
to draw water and cook ; they may not go outside the 
village. In the case of certain sacrifices the family may not 
even leave their house. While a man is pana, no one may 
enter his house ; if any one enters a man's house while he 
is pana the sacrifice is spoilt and must be performed again, 
and the person who spoilt the sacrifice is fined. Again in 
the case of certian sacrifices, it is ana to enter another person's 
house, and if the sacrificer enters another's house he has 
spoilt his own sacrifice and will have to do it again. This 
is the case when the Zangda sacrifice is performed. The 
nature of the pana depends on the sacrifice performed. 
Practically speaking, a person who has performed a sacrifice 
is pana until all the meat of the animal sacrificed has been 
consumed. In the case of the more important sacrifices, an 
aoh, during which no work may be done, is imposed for one 
or two or more days after the pana. 

A whole village also can be pana, and when this is so no 
work is done, the women may not weave and no one goes 
outside the village, but the villagers visit each other's houses. 1 
When a family or a village is pana it means that they are 
forbidden to do certain things, as it is ana to do them, and 
to help the people to avoid doing anything that is ana an 
aoh is imposed. An aoh is imposed only for the more 
important sacrifices and events of village life, for all ordinary 
sacrifices one day's pana is enough. Aoh literally means 
rest or remaining. 

An aoh may apply to one family only or to the whole village, 
according to the occasion. When a family is aoh no member 
of it may go outside the house at all, the women may neither 

1 This word pana=Angami Naga penna, Sema Naga pini, Malay buni, 
S. E. Solomons apu. (Ivens, Melanesians of the S.E. Solomon Islands, 
pp. 263, 269). In Micronesia it appears as penat and panale, while 
imo (Delmas, Religion des Marquisiens, p. 62) is perhaps correlated to the 
Ao Naga term amung ( =Lakher aoh). The Tahiti form is puni, the Maori 
punipuni and the Tongan tapbuni, so linking up with tabu (Evans, " Kem- 
punan," Man, May, 1920). The constant idea throughout is that of segre- 
gation. J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 357 

spin nor weave, and no work may be done. When the whole 
village is aoh, no work is done, and no one may go outside 
the village, but the villagers are allowed to leave their houses 
and go into the village streets. An aoh also partakes of the 
nature of a holiday during which no work is done, and the 
people amuse themselves with games like seuleucha or long- 
beucha within the village. In the cases of certain of the more 
important sacrifices, such as Khisongbo, Tleuliabo, Tlaraipasi, 
Nangtha Hawkei and others, it is ana for strangers to enter 
the village during the aoh, as they would spoil the sacrifice. 
Any stranger entering a village during the aoh is fined the 
value of the animal sacrificed, so that the sacrifice may be 
performed again. Strangers have no excuse for breaking 
these aoh, as the entrances to the village are always closed 
on these occasions, branches with leaves are erected on the 
path to show that an aoh is being held, and a by-pass is 
constructed to enable travellers to skirt the village. 

When a village pana or aoh is to be observed, the decision 
is taken by the chief and elders. In the case of a family 
sacrifice, once the head of the house has decided to perform 
a sacrifice, a pana or aoh follows automatically. A pana 
may be due to either holiness or uncleanness. Thus the 
panas for Kfiazangpina, Zangda and Khisongbo are due to 
holiness, but the panas after Parihrisang and Ahmaw are 
due to uncleanness. 


The anahmang (photo at p. 38) are certain articles dedicated 
to the service of the god KJiazangpa, and used at the 
Khazangpina sacrifice. The literal meaning of anahmang is 
" the forbidden things." 

They consist of the following utensils : 

Kangtlaphei . Twin wooden plates carved out of one block of wood, 
each plate being the shape of, and a little larger than, 
a dice box ; on one plate meat and rice and on the 
other rice flour are placed. 

Beirai ... An earthenware beer-pot. 

Pakong . . A bamboo syphon with a wooden joint. 

Beikang . . An earthenware saucer for holding beer. 




Two Mai s a . Two small open-work bamboo stools, across which is laid 
a wild plantain leaf, on which the phavaw are laid out. 
Some flour is first placed on the leaf, and then the pig's 
spurs and one of its ears, half its tongue, half its tail, 
and half its penis are placed on each of the stools, the 
spurs from its right leg on the right-hand stool and 
those from its left leg on the left-hand stool. The 
bladder is emptied, blown up, and tied to the wall below 
which the anahmang have been laid out. The parts 
offered are taken from different parts of the pig's body 
in order to represent the whole pig. After this some 
cooked liver, some gravy, some meat, some rice, and 
salt are added to the offerings on the maisa. 

Phiaila . . A gourd spoon for the use of Khazangpa when he drinks 
the gravy offered him. 

Deuchhai . . A small wooden chair for Khazangpa to sit on when he 
comes to eat the meat and drink the beer offered to him. 

Bei .... An earthenware cooking-pot for boiling the pig's head. 

Phavaw pawkho A bamboo basket for holding the portions of the phavaw 
to be eaten by the sacrificer. 

Peuveu . . A small cloth displayed on a bamboo 1 frame for Khazangpa 
to wear as a head-dress when he comes to eat the 
phavaw offered him. A pipe filled with tobacco for 
Khazangpa to smoke. 1 

HroJcha . . Three small gourd beer-pots, with reeds for sucking up 
the beer. 

Aphi ... A bamboo mat on which the anahniang are placed while 
the sacrifice is being performed. 

These things are kept either in a model house like a doll's 
house or in a bamboo basket, which is fixed up just under 
the roof above the big bed or ralchong. Sometimes the 
earthenware pots for cooking the meat are kept over the 
hearth above the racks used for drying meat. Every Lakher 
householder possesses a set of anahmang, and when a man 
has built his own house and separated from his father, he 
himself makes his anahmang if he can ; if he cannot, he gets 
some one else to make them for him. If while the anahmang 
are being made a death occurs in the village, those that have 
been made have to be destroyed, and a fresh set has to be 
prepared, as the half-made set has been defiled by the 
death. As soon as the anahmang are ready, the model 
house to contain them is prepared, and then the Khazangpina 
sacrifice is performed with a fowl, and after that the ana- 
hmang are placed and kept inside the house as already 

The anahmang are used only for Khazangpina, and at the 

1 These two articles are included only by the Hnaihleu clan, and not by 
the other Saiko clans. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 359 

conclusion of the sacrifice are washed and replaced inside 
the house. The Hnaihleu clan use them also for the tiger 
sacrifice, Nangtha Hawkei. If a father and son are living 
together in one house, when the father dies the son must 
make new anahmang ; he cannot continue to use his 

The Lusheis use in connection with their Sakhua gourds 
called hairual a small clay zu pot called rothumbel, a zu 
syphon of bamboo called dawnkawn, a gourd called bing, 
another small gourd called haite, and a small wooden plate 
chirawtthleng. The serh, which are the parts set aside for 
the guardian spirit of the clan, and which correspond to the 
Lakher phavaw, are placed on the chirawtthleng. The hairual 
and chirawtthleng are used only for Sakhw, the other articles 
are used in other sacrifices also. The hairual are used as 
cups for drinking the zu. 1 These articles are known collec- 
tively as Bawlhlo. 

The anahmang described here are those used in Saiko, and 
similar articles are used in all the villages. In the Siaha 
group a vaina or war dao, a puggree, a skirt, a blue cloth, a 
bronze bracelet, a cornelian bead, an amber necklace, a 
chestnut pole, a bow and a quiver of two arrows, one of 
which is kept in the quiver, while the other is used to kill 
the pig, are also included with the anahmang. It is ana to 
touch another person's anahmang, and any one doing so, 
whether intentionally or by accident, is fined, and new 
anahmang have to be made. In Chapi the anahmang are 
not kept in a basket or a model house, but simply hung up 
close to the roof, and the heads of the pigs sacrificed are 
hung on the wall next to the bed. In the old days if a 
commoner touched the chief's anahmang he became his 
slave, now he is fined a mithun. The fine for touching an 
ordinary man's anahmang in all the villages is a fowl. In 

1 The Thado Kuki Indoi, described by Dr. Hutton in Appendix G, at 
p. 153, of William Shaw's Notes on the Thadou Kukis, seems to differ from the 
Lakher anahmang and the Lushei Sakhua vessels in that they serve no 
practical purpose, but are merely a bundle of charms. See also William 
Shaw, op. cit., p. 74. N. E. P. I think that some Thado clans, e.g. the 
Holthang, produce them for ceremonial purposes on certain occasions, and 
possibly all do. Certainly offerings are made for it on some occasions. 
J. H. H. 


Savang the anahmang are known as hmangkhei and are hurig 
up close to the main back post of the house. 

When I wanted to photograph a set of anahmang vessels 
in Saiko in 1928, the vessels were lent by three different 
persons Hlitha, Deutha and Sarang. I found out after- 
wards that this arrangement was made as the articles 
brought to be photographed had to be destroyed, and so 
each of these three lent a few of their vessels, so that none 
of them should have the trouble of making a whole new set. 

The Phavaw. 

In nearly every sacrifice, phavaw, which are the parts of 
the animal sacrificed dedicated to the god or spirit to whom 
the sacrifice is offered, are set aside. The parts used vary 
according to the sacrifice performed, but always include 
flour, salt, and some blood of the animal sacrificed. The 
blood is mixed with either rice flour or with raw or cooked 
rice, according to the nature of the sacrifice. These phavaw 
correspond to the Lushei serh. 

In Savang, when a pig has been sacrificed, the parts 
usually set aside as raw phavaw are the ears, the eyebrows, 
the lips, the tongue, the teats, the penis, a toe from the right 
foot, the tail, the bladder and some blood mixed with flour, 
while some of the cooked liver is used for the cooked 

A fowl's phavaw consist of its tail feathers, its tongue, 
some blood, and a foot raw and some cooked liver, rice, and 
salt. These are the fowl's phavaw used in Saiko ; in the 
other villages the same parts, with slight differences, are 

Sacrificial meat is neither cooked in metal pots nor eaten 
off metal dishes. It is not ana to use metal for these pur- 
poses, but it is contrary to custom. Earthen pots and 
dishes having been used for these purposes from time 
immemorial, before the Lakhers knew of metal at all, it 
has become a fixed custom to use earthenware for all 
sacrificial purposes and metal is never used. 

iv RELIGION 361 


Khazangpina is the most important sacrifice performed 
by the Lakhers. It is a sacrifice to the god Khazangpa 
with the object of pleasing him and inducing him to bless 
the sacrificer and his wife with good health and with children, 
to give him good crops and fertile domestic animals, and to 
make him rich. The sacrifice must be performed by the 
head of the house, and the animal sacrificed may be either 
a pig or a fowl. If only a fowl is killed, the family are 
pana from the time of the sacrifice till dawn next day ; if 
a pig is killed, they are pana till dawn next day, and after 
that are aoh for three days. During the pana and aoh the 
pJiavaw, which are the parts of the animal set aside for the 
god, must not be touched by any one except a member of 
the family, and even the sacrificer's concubine must not 
touch them. If any one dies while the sahma beer for 
Khazanypina is being prepared, the beer must be thrown 
away and a fresh brew made after the funeral. The first 
day of the sacrifice is called the Khazangpinang, or day on 
which the offering is made to Khazang ; the second day is 
called Aruhlonang, or the day on which the bones are cooked 
and eaten with rice ; the third day is called Aohnang, and 
the fourth day Sahaw i chaka pana nang, or the day on which 
it is not permissible to walk over wild cat's excrement, as, 
if any of the sacrificer's family did so, the sacrifice would 
be spoilt. It is important that the sacrifice should be 
performed at the correct place, which varies with different 
clans. Some clans sacrifice near the hearth on the side of 
the house on the upward slope of the hill ; some near the 
main post at the back of the house ; some near the main 
post at the front of the house ; some near the bed ; some at 
the foot of the verandah wall. 

As soon as the animal has been slaughtered by stabbing 
it under the right shoulder with an arrow, certain parts of 
it, known as the phavaw, are set aside for Khazang. Some 
of the phavaw are raw and some are cooked. The raw 
phavaw of a fowl consist of its tongue, its blood, and its tail 
feathers, and the cooked phavaw of a little of its liver and 


comb, some rice, some flour, a little cooked meat and gravy, 
and a little salt. The raw phavaw of a pig consist of its lips, 
its ears, its tongue, its tail, one toe from the right fore-leg, 
its bladder, its penis, and the fore-leg, from which a toe has 
been removed. The cooked phavaw consist of a little liver, 
a little of the intestine, a little of the heart and stomach 
with a little meat, rice, salt, and gravy. The raw phavaw 
are first placed on a plantain leaf laid across the two maichas. 
The phavaw to be cooked are then cooked in the anahmang 
pots, the meat portions being cooked in one pot and the rice 
in another. When they are ready, half of the phavaw is 
eaten by the sacrificer and his family, and half is placed 
with the raw portions on the plantain leaf ; any portions 
for which there is no room on the plantain leaf are placed 
on the wooden plate. The head of the pig is cooked by 
itself in one of the anahmang pots ; it can be eaten only by 
members of the sacrificed clan, and with some clans by his 
kei or friend. The rest of the meat is cooked separately in 
the ordinary way, and can be eaten by any one, but until 
the sacrificer and his family have eaten their half of the 
phavaw the feast for the general company cannot be 
started. If only a fowl has been killed the parts of the 
phavaw eaten by the sacrificer are a little flour, rice, meat, 
and liver. 

The phavaw of the fowl are thrown away at the foot of 
the ladder leading up to the house as soon as the fowl has 
been eaten. The phavaw of the pig are thrown away in the 
evening of the Aruhlonang day after the sun has set, and 
then the pig's head is hung up inside the roof above the 
place at which it was killed. The fore-leg of the pig that was 
placed on the anahmang is then cooked and eaten by the 
sacrificer and his family and any members of the clan they 
may invite, and it should all be eaten before sunrise on the 
Aohnang day. After the phavaw have been thrown away 
the anahmang are washed, replaced in their box and hung 
up in their accustomed place under the roof. 

Khazangpina is not performed every year, but only when 
it is thought necessary, as when the householder or his wife 
has ill health or their domestic animals die. When Khaza- 

iv RELIGION 363 

ngpina is being performed, fellow- villagers may enter the 
sacrificer's house, but strangers may not. If any one other 
than a member of a man's family touches the anahmang, 
whether during a sacrifice or not, it is ana, and a fine is 

Before the pig is actually killed the sacrificer intones a 
chant which runs as follows : 

" Oh, Khazang, I sacrifice this pig to you. Accept it without 

anger and be pleased with us. 
Grant me sons and daughters, and let them be clever and 


Bless my pigs and cattle, and cause them to multiply. 
Watch over me in illness and save me from death. 
Enable me to shoot many animals, and give me good crops. 
Bless me in all my works and deeds. 
Watch over my whole family and keep us from harm, 
I cannot pray to you as well as my father and my mother did, 

but if I have made omissions, forgive me my mistake." 

After finishing the chant, the sacrificer places some sahma 
and flour in the pig's mouth, and then stabs it with an arrow 
under the right shoulder. 

The description given above applies to the Tlongsai, but 
much the same procedure is followed by the other tribes, 
though there are small differences, which depend on the clan. 
With some clans the water for cooking the phavaw must be 
drawn by the sacrificer himself or his wife, and when they 
have started making flour to put with the phavaw, the 
pounding of the flour must not be stopped till the job is 
finished, or it is ana. The belief is that the quicker they 
pound the flour the quicker Khazangpa will grant what they 
pray for. In Tisi the ceremony performed by the Nongh- 
rang clan lasts a week. The first day is called Teibihmanang, 
and is pana. The second day is called Atawhlonang, and is 
aoh. The third day is called Teibipasinang, and is aoh. 
The fourth day is aoh. During these four days no stranger 
may enter the sacrificer's house. On the fifth, sixth and 
seventh days the sacrificer and his family may go to work, 
but must not attend a wake and may not touch a dead 
animal. In Savang the ceremony lasts for three days. The 
first day is called Pananang. The second day is pana. The 
third day is aoh. The raw phavaw consist of the ears, the 


eyebrows, the lips, the tongue, the teats, the penis, a toe 
from the right foot, the tail, the bladder, and some blood, 
together with one fore-leg. The cooked phavaw consist of 
rice, salt, gravy, and liver. The head and intestines are 
cooked in one pot, but the meat of the head can be eaten 
only by clansmen. The loins and a hind-leg are cooked on 
the second day, and the fore-leg that was set aside with the 
phavaw on the evening of the second day. This fore-leg is 
set aside because it is under the fore-leg that the animal was 
stabbed, so the fore-leg is dedicated to Khazangpa, who, 
however, is believed to give it back to his worshippers, 
and so it is eaten last of all. When all the meat has been 
consumed the phavaw are thrown away through the hole 
in the floor through which the main post of the house 
passes. 1 

During the aoh people may enter the house, but may not 
be given food or nicotine-water, and may not smoke. 

In Chapi the ceremonial for the Changza chief's Khazang- 
pina is different from that in use in the other villages. On 
the first occasion that a new chief performs Khazangpina 
after his father's death, the sacrifice must consist of a red 
cock. On the day of the sacrifice, the chief and his family 
are pana, and shut themselves up in their private part of 
the house ; the retainers are not allowed to enter the private 
apartment on this occasion. The cock having been killed, 
the phavaw are laid out on the place on the floor where the 
sacrifice was made. For phavaw a little meat from one leg 
and the breast, a little liver, a little of the comb, some gravy 
and some rice, salt and sesamum are set aside. A little of 
the phavaw is eaten by the chief and his family, and then 
they partake of the fowl, and some of its meat is given to the 
retainers to eat in their own part of the house. Next day 
there is an aoh for the chief and all his household no one 
may enter the house and no one may leave it. The house 
doors are kept shut, the chief and his family remaining in 
their apartment and the retainers in their own rooms. The 
aoh lasts till the stars came out on the night of the day after 

1 The main post of the house is often associated with sacrifice, and with 
fertility rites in particular, by Nagas. J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 365 

the sacrifice. This sacrifice of a red cock is the preliminary 
ceremony, and three years later anahmang are made and a 
pig is sacrificed. As before, the chief remains in his own 
apartment and the retainers in their part of the house. The 
pig having been killed, its right fore-leg, bladder, and penis 
are set aside as the raw phavaw. The liver is cooked, and 
a small portion of it eaten as phavaw by the chief alone. 
Then some liver, brain, some of the intestines and some meat 
are placed on the anahmang wooden plate as phavaw, and 
the rest of these portions is eaten by the chief and his 
family. The rest of the meat is cooked and eaten by the 
chief, his family and his retainers. The meat being all 
consumed, the chief draws water, places the phavaw on the 
floor, washes up the anahmang and puts them away. The 
pig's head is then hung up on the wall of the chief's apart- 
ment above the place at which the pig had been sacrificed. 
The next day is aoh. the fore-leg that was set aside with the 
phavaw is cooked by a retainer, and eaten by the chief and 
his household, the rest of the phavaw are thrown away. The 
aoh lasts till the stars appear. After the lapse of four or 
five years this sacrifice is repeated. 


If for any reason a man finds it impossible to do the 
regular Khazangpina sacrifice, he can do a modified form of 
it, which is known as Zakhapa. When Zakhapa is performed, 
the whole of the meat of the animal sacrificed must be eaten 
in one night, and people belonging to other clans than the 
sacrificer may partake of it. Phavaw are set aside as 
in the regular sacrifice. The family are pana for the day 
and night of the sacrifice, but there is no aoh, and fellow- 
villagers may enter the house, but it is ana for strangers 
to do so. 

Either a fowl or a pig may be killed for Zakhapa, but if 
the latter, a small animal is always chosen. Any meat not 
consumed on the night of the sacrifice is thrown away, and 
may not be kept for use next day. 



Zangda is a sacrifice to Zang, a tutelary deity who is 
attached to every human being, and acts as a guardian 
angel. It is intended to ensure the good health, fertility, 
and happiness of a married couple or of their children, and 
to save them from getting nightmares and from suffering 
from sores. For this sacrifice a fowl must be killed. If the 
sacrifice is especially for the benefit of the woman, a pullet 
is used, and if it is for the benefit of the husband a cockerel. 
A gourd spoon phiatla containing water and a little rice is 
placed on the floor of the house, an incision is made in the 
bird's mouth and it is allowed to bleed into the gourd ; some 
feathers are pulled out of its tail and placed on the floor 
near the gourd. The fowl is then held over the gourd and its 
back is broken with a dao. Its tongue is then pulled out 
for the phavaw and placed inside the gourd, after which the 
fowl is cooked, and when it is ready a little of its comb and 
liver, a little gravy, some salt, and some rice are placed in 
the gourd as phavaw. The sacrificer does not eat any of the 
phavaw. The meat is then eaten by the married couple. 
When all the meat has been eaten, the phavaw are thrown 
out through a hole in the floor. The whole family is pana 
from the time the sacrifice is made till dawn next day. It 
is ana for any one to enter the house on the night of the 
sacrifice, and any one doing so is fined a fowl. The fact 
that a sacrifice is being held is indicated by two bamboos 
placed crosswise in front of the house. When the sacrifice 
is performed for one of a married couple, their children may 
Hot eat any of the meat. If the couple are living in the 
husband's parents' house, the parents must partake of the 
meat, but if the couple are living in their own house, their 
parents may not eat any of it. If a married couple do 
Zangda for one of their children, the child for whom the 
sacrifice is performed and the parents may eat of the meat, 
but none of the other children may, as if they do so the Zang 
will not know for which child the sacrifice is made. A 
married couple may not do Zangda for any of their children 
who have got married, as by marriage the child has separated 
from its parents* 

iv RELIGION 367 

The following is the chant used by Sarang of Saiko when 
he performs Zangda : 

" Oh, guardian angel, I sacrifice a cock to you, 
Be pleased with me, and keep me well and grant me children. 
Save me from suffering from sores. 
Do not let my soul wander away from me." 

If the sacrifice is being made for the benefit of the husband, 
the husband utters the prayer, holding the fowl which is to 
be sacrificed, and then hands the fowl to his wife, who 
sacrifices it. If the sacrifice is for the benefit of the wife, 
she utters the prayer, and her husband kills the fowl. 

Khisongbo or Kaihlaivbo, 

Khisongbo is a sacrifice to the Khisong, which is a place 
inhabited by some powerful spirit or genius loci. These 
spirits generally dwell on mountain tops or precipices, or in 
deep pools in rivers or lakes. 

Every village has some place near by which they believe 
is a Khisong, to which at irregular intervals sacrifices are 
offered. Some villages sacrifice every year, some every 
other year. Savang sacrifice to the precipice above their 
village on the Tlialia range ; Chakhang to Mawma Tlang ; 
Chapi to the Kahri mountain just above Chapi village, also 
to Tichang, a precipice below the village, and to Longpha, 
the highest peak on the Kahria range ; Saiko and Siaha 
sacrifice to a hill called Chhongchongpaw on the Bualpui 
range ; Tisi to a pool called Tisi Khupi in the Tisi river ; 
Tongkolong to a deep lake called Pala Tipang, and known 
to the Lusheis as Palak Dil, while Longba sacrifice to a pool 
in the Pala river called Tleulianong. 

The sacrifice is performed by all the villagers jointly, and 
its object is to improve the land, the crops, and the animals, 
and also to ensure the good health of the villagers. A man 
is selected by the villagers to perform the sacrifice who must 
be clean and healthy, not afflicted with syphilis, sores, or 
scabies. None of the women of the sacrificed family may 
be pregnant or with menstrual flow, and the man selected 
must also have a lucky name. A red cock and a pig are the 


usual sacrifice, but once in a generation a mithun is sacrificed 
instead of a pig. The sacrifice is performed outside the 
village at some spot from which the hill or precipice to which 
the sacrifice is being offered can be seen clearly, or else at 
its very foot. A flat stone is laid at the foot of a well- 
grown young tree, and a head stone is also erected. Before 
the sacrifice is performed, the sacrificer intones a chant, 
calling on the Khisong by name to make them prosperous. 
The pig is held down by young men who are ceremonially 
pure, and is killed with an arrow at the foot of the tree, 
and its phavaw, both raw and cooked, consisting of its ears, 
tongue, tail, penis, toe, and blood and some cooked liver 
and intestine with rice and salt, are placed on the stone. 
The sacrificer eats a little of the phavaw, the meat off the 
pig's skull and the whole of the chicken. The rest of the 
meat is eaten by the villagers. When a mithun is sacrificed 
to the Khisong, a rope is tied to its horns, and it is held by 
a number of young men who must be ceremonially pure. 
The sacrificer then shoots an arrow into the mithun, after 
which the men who are holding the rope pull the mithun 
down on its knees and kill it by striking it on the head with 
an axe. 

For phavaw they set aside on the stone some flour mixed 
with blood, and on this the mithun's ears, tongue, and tail 
are placed raw, some of the liver, intestines, and meat being 
added cooked, with salt, gravy, and rice. The meat on the 
head of the mithun is eaten only by the sacrificer and his 
family, as if all the villagers were allowed to partake of it 
some portion of it might be eaten by women who are pregnant 
or menstruous, and so ceremonially impure, which would 
vitiate the sacrifice. The rest of the meat is distributed to 
the people, and at dark they all return to the village and 
cook and eat the meat. 

On the day of the sacrifice the village is pana ; the next 
day is a strict aoh, and even the chickens are kept shut up 
lest a hawk should take them. The day after is called 
Chheutheu. On the Chheutheu day the women may neither 
spin nor weave, but may work. The men all go to the jungle 
and try to shoot or trap a wild animal. If they are 

iv RELIGION 369 

successful in this, the next day also is aoh Chheupana ; if not, 
the sacrifice is finished and the aoh at an end. The idea of 
the Chheutheu is to see whether the sacrifice has had any 
effect or not. If they manage to kill or trap an animal, 
they believe that the spirit of the mountain is pleased, and 
that he will give them a prosperous year. The further aoh 
imposed if a wild animal is killed is because it is believed 
that if there is no aoh after a wild animal has been killed for 
the first time after the sacrifice they will thereafter be 
unlucky in hunting. The aoh is to please the souls of the 
wild animals, who are supposed to dislike cotton thread ; 
and so on that day the women are not allowed to touch 
any cotton thread. During the aohs held after this sacrifice 
the villagers amuse themselves by playing at the bean game 
called seuleucha. 

During the aoh for Khisongbo it is ana for a stranger to 
enter the village. The entrances to the village are all closed 
and a large bunch of leaves is erected at each entrance to 
show that the village is aoh, and a by-pass is made to allow 
strangers to pass without entering the village. Any stranger 
disregarding these warnings and entering the village is fined 
a pig or a fowl. The sacrificer must remain inside his house 
during the aoh, and is not allowed to eat the meat of any 
animal that has been killed by another wild animal, nor to 
enter a house where a death has taken place, nor to attend 
a wake until the new moon has risen, as he would thereby 
be defiled, and the spirit of the mountain would be annoyed. 


Tleulia is a village sacrifice to the slope of the hill on 
which the village is situated, as, though the village site is 
not a regular Khisong, it is believed to be also inhabited by 
spirits, who must be propitiated in order to induce them to 
make the people healthy and fertile, to give good crops, and 
to make all domestic animals breed freely. The sacrifice is 
generally performed once in every two years, but in Savang 
it is performed every year, and the Chithla sacrifice is per- 
formed on the same day. The sacrificer is a man who is 
2 B 


usually appointed for life as a priest for this particular 
sacrifice, and is the only person resembling a priest found 
among the Lakhers. This priest is known as the tleuliabopa, 
and when he performs the Tleulia sacrifice he must be cere- 
monially pure. If in a given year his wife or any of the 
women of his household are pregnant, the sacrifice is post- 
poned to the next year. He cannot perform the sacrifice 
while any of his women have their menstrual flow. The 
tleuliabopa is also subject to certain other prohibitions. He 
may not go and catch fish in the river, as a great deal more 
rice is eaten with fish than with meat, and if the tleuliabopa 
eats fish he will eat a large amount of rice, which by sym- 
pathetic magic will have a bad effect on the crops, and cause 
the paddy to be consumed rapidly. He is not allowed to 
touch the indigo plant, as when indigo dye is prepared the 
plant is rotten and bad smelling, and if the tleuliabopa 
touches it, the rice will rot in the same way. He is not 
allowed to touch the barongthu, a kind of pulse which is 
eaten rotten, for the same reason. Further, the tleuliabopa 
may not eat of the flesh of any animal that has been killed 
by a wild animal, may not go to a house where a death has 
taken place, and may not attend a wake, as if he did so he 
would be defiled. For a year after he has performed the 
Tleulia sacrifice the tleuliabopa is not allowed even to go 
near a river, as it is believed that if he does so the crop will 
fail and the paddy already harvested will not last out. 

The sacrifice is always performed at the same place in the 
village under the tleulia tree, usually a tree called bongchhi 
(Ficus geniculata) which is planted in every village the first 
time the sacrifice is performed on that village site. Under 
the tree a flat stone is laid on the ground and an upright 
stone is erected at its head. The flat stone is used for 
laying out the pfiavaw. The sacrifice consists of a fowl and 
a pig, and once in a generation a mithun is sacrificed instead 
of the pig. 

Before the sacrifice is made all the fires in the village are 
extinguished. The old fire is regarded as defiled, having 
.been used for cooking funeral meats and the meat of animals 
killed by tigers, having also been present through any illness 

iv RELIGION 371 

that may have taken place in the house, and so it must be 
put out before the sacrifice. As soon as the animal has 
been slaughtered, new fire is made on the Tleulia ground 
with either matches or flint and steel it is immaterial which 
is used. A large fire is made, and the village crier calls on 
all householders to come and fetch the new fire. The 
villagers all come with torches, which they light at the new 
fire, and go back to their houses and kindle the new fire on 
the hearth. 

The ileuliabopa, as he is about to make the sacrifice, offers 
up a prayer ; the animals to be slaughtered are held by 
young men who are ceremonially pure, as in Khisongbo, and 
are shot or stabbed with an arrow beneath the tleulia tree. 

No women may be present at the sacrifice, lest any who 
are unclean may spoil the sacrifice. Enough meat is cooked 
on the tleulia ground for the men present to eat on the spot, 
and the rest of the meat is distributed raw among all the 
villagers. When the men have finished their meal on the 
tleulia ground, and before they go off to their houses, the 
tleuliabopa hangs up the pig's head in the bongchhi tree. 

Although women are not allowed to partake of the meat 
cooked on the tleulia ground, there is no objection to their 
cooking and eating in their houses the raw meat that falls 
to their share. 

The phavaw, which are the same as those set aside at 
Khisongbo, are placed on the stone at the foot of the tleulia 
tree. The fowl, the mithun's or the pig's head, as the case 
may be, and small portions of the phavaw, are eaten by the 
tleuliabopa, part of it on the place of sacrifice and the rest 
in his house. The day of the sacrifice is pana, the next day 
is aoh, and the day after is called Chheutheu. If any animal 
is shot on the Chheutheu day there is another day's aoh for 
Chheupana, exactly as in the Khisongbo. The entrances to 
the village are closed, it is ana for any stranger to enter the 
village, and any one entering the village instead of going 
round by the by-path is fined a pig or a fowl. The tleulia 
tree is regarded as sacred, and it is believed that a leurahripa 
of comparatively kindly disposition comes and takes up its 
abode in the branches, who, if duly propitiated, will help 


the village, give good crops, make both men and animals 
fertile and make the children good looking. To cut the tree 
is ana ; any one doing so would be fined a sow and made to 
plant a new tree. If a branch of the tree breaks, it is 
believed that one of the village elders will die, and if the 
tree is blown over in a storm it is said to indicate the im- 
pending death of the chief or one of his family. When the 
Saiko tleulia tree was blown down, the chief's wife died 
within six months. If any one injures either of the stones 
below the tree, he is fined a sow, which is used to perform 
the sacrifice required when a new stone is erected. 

In Siaha the first day is pana ; there are then two days 
aoli, and after that Chheutheu. In Chapi no regular Tleulia 
is performed, its place being taken by two sacrifices called 
Chitang and Chhome. In Savang each householder takes a 
little of the blood of the sacrifice and anoints some of his 
standing crop with it. Less importance is apparently at- 
tached to the tleuliabopa being ceremonially pure in Savang, 
as he is allowed to perform the sacrifice even if any of his 
womenkind are pregnant or menstruating. 


The Lakhers, except for one clan, have no great series of 
feasts, like the Lushei Thangchhuah feasts. The Khichha 
Hleuchang, the royal clan of Siaha, however, perform a series 
of feasts intended to assist the giver to attain to Paradise, 
though it does not release him from the obligation of shooting 
certain animals. Each feast has its own name, the whole 
series leading up to the final feast, known as Khangchei. The 
feasts must be performed in the order given below ; to alter 
the order is ana. 

The first of these feasts is called Phidong. The anahmang 
are all placed at the foot of the verandah wall on the 
side of the house higher up the slope of the hill, and a sow 
of three fists is killed close by immediately after sunrise by 
the giver of the feast. When the pork has been cooked, 
a little of each part of the stomach, with some meat, gravy 
and salt, are laid out on the anahmang as phavaw for the 

iv RELIGION 373 

god to eat. The members of the family eat some pork on 
the day of sacrifice, and the next day invite their friends 
and give them a feast off the rest of the pork and sahma 
beer. That evening when the sacrificer goes to bed he leaves 
the phavaiv set aside for the god on the anahmang ; next 
morning he throws out the phavaw at the foot of the ladder, 
washes up the anahmang and puts them away. After an 
interval, usually of about three months, the next feast, 
called Vothawthi, takes place. For this a boar of five or six 
fists is killed near the anahmang, which are laid out on the 
verandah in the same place as in the first sacrifice. The 
animal is killed in the evening after sunset, beer is prepared 
beforehand, and many people are invited. The phavaw are 
set aside for Khazangpa as before, and the sacrificer and his 
family eat their pork in the verandah ; when they have 
finished, the anahmang are taken inside the house and placed 
at the foot of the wall near the bed on the side of the house 
which is higher up the hill, this side of a house being con- 
sidered the more honourable. The reason why the anahmang 
are first placed in the verandah and then taken inside the 
house, is that Khazangpa will first arrive in the verandah 
and rest awhile, and will then go inside the house and 
partake of the things laid out for him. The pork for the 
guests is then cooked, the young men and girls sing songs, 
and drinks are handed round. When the pork is ready, the 
girls and boys who have been amusing the company, singing 
and dancing, are served first before the first cock crows, 
after them the women, and last of all the men. Lakhers 
say that the women are served first because they are regarded 
as inferior beings to the men, and so must be treated with 
special kindness. The whole company sits up all night. In 
the morning the pork left over is cooked again, more beer is 
prepared, and the feast goes on all day. After dusk every 
one goes home and the sacrificer goes to bed. Next morning 
beer is prepared on the verandah ; this day is called Aruhlo- 
nang, the day on which the pig's bones are cooked with rice 
and eaten. The guests all return, and feasting and drinking 
go on all day on the verandah ; the younger people only get 
beer, the bones and rice being preserved for the elders. The 


reason for the feast being held on the verandah is that on 
this last day Khazangpa is preparing to return to his home, 
and so has come out of the house on to the verandah. As 
soon as it gets dusk the guests all go home, and the sacrificer 
goes to bed. Next morning the phavaw are thrown away 
at the foot of the ladder, and the anahmang are washed and 
put away. 

The next feast is called Vori. A sow of two fists is killed 
by the head of the house. The anahmang are laid out in 
the evening at the foot of the wall on that side of the house 
which is higher up the slope. The pork being cooked, the 
same phavaw as described in the other feasts are set aside 
for Khazangpa. The pork may be eaten only by fellow- 
clansmen ; it is ana for any one else to partake of it ; not 
even the sacrificer's sister's children nor his mother's brothers 
can do so. The pork must all be consumed before dawn ; 
it is ana to leave any of it over. Before sunrise the anah- 
mang are taken out on to the verandah and the phavaw 
are thrown out at the foot of the ladder, the anahmang 
are washed, and then put away. The reason for throwing 
away the phavaw at the foot of the ladder is that Khazangpa 
will leave the house by the ladder, and the food that has 
been dedicated to him should go out by the same way. 

The next feast is Seichhong. For this a mithun calf seven 
months old is used. The mithun is tied with a rope round 
its neck, a rope is attached to its right hind- and fore-feet. 
The ropes must all be held by the sacrificer's clansmen, in 
order to avoid all danger of any person one of whose ancestors 
was a slave, possessed of the evil eye, a murderer, or a bastard 
taking any part in the ceremony. The sacrificer then shoots 
the animal with a bow and arrow under its right shoulder. 
The men holding the ropes throw the mithun, which is killed 
by the sacrificer with a blow on the neck from a heavy 
wooden stick. The mithun is sacrificed after sunset. Before 
the sacrifice the anahmang are laid out on the ground close 
to the place where the animal is to be killed, and as soon as 
it has been slaughtered the sacrificer's clansmen remove its 
entrails and cook a little liver, a little of its stomach and its 
bowels and some meat as phavaw. When these are ready, 

iv RELIGION 375 

they are placed on the anahmang with rice and salt for 
Khazangpa. The animal is then cut up by some of the 
guests and cooked. After the phavaw have been arranged 
on the anahmang, they are brought into the house and 
placed at the foot of the upper wall, and the feast begins ; 
songs are sung, food and drink are served to all, and the 
proceedings continue all night and till dusk next day, when 
the guests go home. The next day is Aruhlonang, the guests 
return, and are given beer and bones and rice ; at dusk they 
all go home. Next morning before sunrise the anahmang 
are taken out into the verandah, the phavaw are thrown 
away at the foot of the ladder, and the anahmang are washed 
and put away. 

The next feast is called Beibei ; it is held whenever the 
sacrificer has the animals required. A week before the feast 
is held, the sacrificer invites all the young men and girls to 
help collect firewood to cook the meat. They collect and 
split firewood and lay it to dry along a fence, built on the 
edge of the village path. 1 As a reward for their help, the 
sacrificer kills a pig, prepares beer, and gives them a feast. 
On the day fixed for the sacrifice two bull mithun and three 
pigs are slaughtered. The larger mithun is killed first, and 
its meat is distributed raw to all the villagers. The smaller 
mithun and the three pigs are cooked and used for a feast, 
which lasts for seven days, during which the whole village 
gives itself up to eating, drinking, and merriment. No 
phavaw are set aside, as the mithun are not killed as a sacrifice 
to God, but merely for a feast to glorify the man who gives it. 

The next feast is Chakei la, the ceremony performed over 
the head of a dead tiger to lay its ghost. For this purpose 
the man who is performing this series of feasts has to wait 
till some one has killed a tiger, and as soon as this event has 
occurred, preparations are made and the la is held. 

The proceedings start with the sacrifice of a boar in the 
village street to lay the tiger's ghost. This pork may be 
eaten only by men, who have a feast and drink beer. Women 
may not take part, as their presence would prevent the tiger's 

1 Cf. the Lushei Sathingzar. Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 88 
and Parry, Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, p. 103. N. E. P. 


ghost from being laid. Next morning a bull mithun and a 
pig are slaughtered and beer is brewed. The tiger's head is 
placed on a small platform erected in the street. This plat- 
form is made of thohmaw wood (Ehus semi alata), which is 
much feared by tigers' ghosts, as it is used to make gun- 
powder. Another reason given me for the use of this 
particular wood is that thohmaw wood burns away very 
rapidly and vanishes, and so if it is used for holding the 
tiger's head the tiger's saw will vanish quickly also. The 
man who is performing the ceremony then dresses up in 
woman's cloths, does his hair like a woman, takes a spindle 
in his hand, and dances round the tiger's head, followed 
by all the guests. They dance round the head in this 
way nine times, and after each round the giver of the feast 
thrusts the spindle through the tiger's nostrils and pours 
a little sahma into them. After this the feast is held. In 
the evening the man performing the ceremony puts on his 
own cloths again and, taking a vaina in one hand and a 
shield in the other, dances five times round the tiger's head 
with one of his friends. At the end of the fifth round the 
dancer seizes the tiger's head and runs off with it outside 
the village, pursued by the performer of the ceremony 
jabbing at the tiger's head with his vaina. The head is then 
thrown away outside the village fence. That night the 
whole village is aoh, and the women may neither spin nor 
weave for fear of the tiger's ghost. Next morning before 
any one else leaves his house the giver of the feast sacrifices 
a small fowl on the village path, which ends the aoh, and the 
villagers may all come out of their houses and take up their 
daily tasks. 

The culminating feast of the series is called Khangchei. 
The proceedings commence with the slaughter of a cow 
mithun and a three-day feast. After that the young men 
and girls spend ten days in collecting and drying firewood, 
for which labour they are rewarded with a feast of pork and 
beer. A week later the real feast begins. A post called 
hraisong is erected in front of the house for each mithun to 
be killed. These posts are straight, not forked, like the 
Lushei seluphan, and are simply to show how many mithun 

iv RELIGION 377 

were slain. About five mithun are slaughtered, all except 
one in the morning, one being kept to be killed in the evening 
as a sacrifice to Khazangpa, to whom prayer is offered before 
the sacrifice, though no phavaw are set aside for him. Next 
morning a bamboo platform, called khangang, is made, and 
the wife of the performer of the ceremony is carried on it 
nine times round and round in front of the house by eight 
young men, followed by all the villagers chanting 

" A nu maw khuang a chawi 
A pa maw khuang a chawi 
Se ra suse, suncjthla de de law. 
Awla zaza law." 

which, roughly translated, means : 

" Is the wife performing the ceremony ? 
Is the husband performing the ceremony ? 
Rock them from side to side. 
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! " 

The woman throws down gongs, brass basins, and money 
from the platform on which she is being carried ; these are 
taken by the sisters of the man who is performing the 
ceremony. This shows the difference between the Lakher 
and Lushei character. The gifts thrown to be scrambled 
for by the villagers by a Lushei chief doing Khuangchawi 
are kept by those who manage to annex them, but the 
Lakher largesse is only a pretence, and is returned to the 
giver after the ceremony. The young men who carry the lady 
round receive no reward it is regarded as their duty to 
help the giver of the feast by doing this free. The feast lasts 
for nine days. The animals slaughtered are eaten and vats 
of beer are consumed. On the ninth day, in the evening, 
a Lushei comes out to the space in front of the house stark 
naked, followed by a Lakher youth wearing a loin-cloth, and 
they wrestle together. It is so arranged that the Lakher 
always wins, as it is believed that if the Lushei wins his 
opponent will become consumptive, whereas a defeat in- 
volves no such disastrous consequences for the Lushei, who 
is given a present of 10 or 20 rupees. On the ninth evening, 
after dark, the fires are all put out in the sacrificed house, 
and a saturnalia of free love is allowed, the young men 


being at liberty to take their pleasure with any of the women 
present, whether married or single, without let or hindrance, 
save that the women may defend themselves with weapons 
if they like, and no man may complain even if a woman in 
defending herself has cut him and drawn blood. This goes 
on all night, and is the end of the feast. Actually it does 
not seem that force was ever used, but all those who wished 
to take advantage of the opportunity were able to do so 
freely. The last person to do the whole series of feasts was 
Zaneu, the grandfather of the present chief of Siaha, about 
sixty years ago. The description above was obtained from 
Tleitia, a former slave of Zaneu, who was present as a boy, 
and from the present chiefs of Siaha and Thiahra, Thachhong 
and Tlaiko. Tlaiko has already performed the feasts up to 
Chakei la, and is going to perform Khangchei as soon as he 
has enough mithun to do so. 

A man performing Khangchei does not acquire the right 
to wear special cloths and plumes, like a Lushei who has 
performed Khuangchawi, nor is he pana for a period after 
the ceremony ; the only material effect of the ceremony is 
to increase the death due (ru) that will be payable on his 
death. 1 Great prestige, however, accrues to any one who 
goes through the whole series of feasts. Strictly, the 
ceremony is Poi, and not Lakher, the Khichha Hleuchang, 
the only Lakher clan that performs it, being of Poi origin, 
and still influenced by Poi custom. These feasts, while a 
source of pride to the giver, are an occasion for merry- 
making for the whole village, and all willingly subscribe 
beer to ensure that the proceedings shall not be dull for 
lack of enlivening liquor. The Poi Khuang Soi and the 
Lushei Khuangchawi are similar feasts. 2 


All Lakhers desire to have children, and one of the objects 
of the Khazangpina and Zangda sacrifices is to induce the 

1 The picturesque ceremony called Mitthirawplam, which is an important 
part of the Lushei Thangchhuah feasts, is not performed by the Lakhers. 
Cf. Parry, Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 103-106. N. E. P. 

* Cf. W. B. Head, Haka Chin Customs, p. 31 et seq. ; N. E. Parry, 
A Monograph on Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 95-108 ; Lt.-Col. J. 
Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, pp. 87-90. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 379 

gods to bless the persons offering them with large families. 
The communal Tleulia sacrifice to the spirit of the village 
site is offered in the hope that the spirit will make all 
members of the community fertile. In addition to these 
general sacrifices, other methods are adopted by childless 
women who aro desirous of offspring. 

Sakia is a sacrifice performed by women to the Sakia to 
enable them to have children. The Sakia is a spirit like 
Zang, but of a less benevolent nature. Men have no Sakia, 
but every woman has a Sakia, and if a woman is unhealthy 
or unable to have children the Sakia is blamed. If a woman 
constantly dreams that she is beating her husband or her 
children, she is said to have an evil Sakia. A Sakia is a less 
powerful spirit than a Zang, but, being spiteful, it must be 
propitiated, lest it should prevent the woman it is attached 
to from having children, or should make her children ill. 
The woman who desires a child sacrifices a red cock in the 
place where the water-tubes are kept, which is supposed to 
be the woman's side of the house. Before she kills the fowl 
the woman places on the floor an imitation beer-pot made 
out of a gourd, containing water, and a reed for sucking up 
the beer ; close by she lays out some flour ; then, holding 
the fowl in her left hand, she offers up a prayer, after which 
she cuts the fowl's mouth and lets it bleed on to the flour. 
She then breaks the fowl's back with the blunt side of a dao, 
pulls out its tongue and its tail feathers, and places them on 
the flour as phavaw. The fowl is then cooked, and some 
liver, some of the comb, some gravy, some rice, and some 
salt are laid with the other phavaw. The meat is eaten by 
the woman and her family. The phavaw are then thrown 
away through the hole in the floor. The gourd beer-pot 
and reed are placed in a small basket and hung over the 
place where the water-tubes are kept. The sacrifice is per- 
formed in the evening, and the family are pana till next 

Another method for enabling a woman to have children 
is for her brother or her pupa to place some sahmahei 
(fermented rice) in her mouth with a hair-pin. This must 
be done when the moon is waning, and the brother or pupa, 


as the case may be, must not speak to the woman till after 
a new moon has risen. The belief is that if there is ill- 
feeling between a woman and her brother or her pupa, this 
renders her unable to have children, and so this little cere- 
mony is performed as a sign of goodwill, and in the hope 
that the restoration of friendliness will cause the gods to 
raise the ban and allow the woman to have children. Lak- 
hers say that this method is efficacious. Again, in the case 
of a woman whose parents are dead, infertility is ascribed 
to the spirits of her parents being displeased with her. 1 

When this is believed to be the cause of a woman's barren- 
ness, a fowl is sacrificed and cooked with rice, and the meat 
and rice are placed on the graves of the barren woman's 
parents. The spirits of a woman's husband's parents can 
also prevent her from having children if they are displeased 
with her, so this sacrifice is performed to them also, if 
occasion arises. The night of the sacrifice is pana. This 
is an interesting instance of the belief that the spirits of the 
dead are able to exert influence over the living. These 
sacrifices are called Thlaawrua. The following instance is of 

Panghleu of Tisi was always on very bad terms with his 
father. He was married before his father died, and could 
not get any children. His friends all said, " You behaved 
badly to your father when he was alive ; when he died he 
was very angry with you, and his spirit is preventing you 
from having any children. You must perform the Thlaawrua 
sacrifice." Panghleu followed the advice given him, and in 
due course became the father of two children. 

In Chapi a special sacrifice is offered to the sky in order 
to enable a barren woman to have children. This sacrifice 
is known as Avapalopatla, and is intended to make the slaves 
and domestic animals of the sacrificer fertile and prolific, as 
well as the woman for whose special benefit it is performed. 
A small mat is spread out at the base of the post of the plat- 
form in front of the verandah and on the side of the house 
lower down the hill. On this some flour and a small pot of 

1 No doubt the latent idea is that the deceased parents might be expected 
to be reborn of her if they were not displeased. J. H, H. 

iv RELIGION 381 

rice beer are placed. For the sacrifice either a he-goat or a 
white cock may be used. If a goat is used, it must be 
caught by men friends of the sacrificer, who, when it has 
been caught, intones the following chant : " Oh, wonderful 
sky above me, I oiler you this horned goat. Grant me sons 
and daughters men servants and maid servants, slaves, 
miihun and domestic animals, and let them increase and 
multiply." After making this prayer, the sacrificer puts 
some of the flour and beer into the goat's mouth, and when 
the goat has swallowed this places some flour under the 
animal's right shoulder and sprinkles it with beer. He 
next pulls out some of the goat's hair, and blows some 
towards the east and some towards the west, after which 
he stabs the goat with an arrow under the shoulder. When 
the meat is cooked part of the liver and some of the meat 
from the head are set aside as phavaw, the rest of the meat 
being eaten by men only, no women being allowed to partake 
thereof. The goat's head is stuck up outside the house on 
a high pole, and the day after the sacrifice the sacrificer is 
pana, and may not leave the village ; the women, however, 
are allowed to weave and may go about their daily tasks 
as usual. This is the most important sacrifice to the 

The sky is a woman, according to the Sabeu, so her favour 
is invoked for her sisters here below. 1 It is only in Sabeu 
villages that the sky is held to be a woman ; all the other 
Lakher tribes consider that the sky is a man. 

During pregnancy no special food is prescribed for women, 
they can eat what they like. Pregnant women are especially 
addicted to eating clay. Many women eat this clay at 
ordinary times, but when they are pregnant they acquire a 
regular craving for it. 

There are two kinds of edible clay, one is red and the 
other grey. They are both known as longbeu, and seem to 
have much the same properties. The red variety is said to 
be found under the soil, in places where the soil is especially 
good. The grey clay is found on the surface, very often on 

1 This rather suggests the Angami notion of the Spirit -mother, the 
ultimate source of at any rate all human life, who lives in the sky. J. H. H. 


the surface of paths and roads. Both varieties have some 
of the properties of chewing-gum. After clay has been 
chewed for some time it gets sticky, and clay eaters can be 
spotted at once from the fragments of clay sticking round 
their mouths. It is said to have a detrimental effect on the 
health of those who eat it. 1 Men eat clay much more rarely, 
and never seem to become slaves to the habit, like women. 
Lakher women are also very fond of eating tobacco ashes 
out of their pipes ; they say that the ash has a pleasant 
salty taste ; but it is said to cause constipation and to have 
a generally weakening effect. 

Lushei women, and men, too, occasionally eat clay, but 
only the grey variety. This clay is called lungno. It is 
said to cause constipation and general ill-health. Tobacco 
ash and charcoal are also eaten, and are both said to have 
very bad effects on the health of the eaters. I have never 
heard of any Lakhers eating charcoal. The habit of eating 
clay or tobacco ash, once acquired, is very difficult to 
break off. 

Bitter fruits, such as lemons or pomelos, are much sought 
for by pregnant women. 

A pregnant woman, though her condition disqualifies her 
husband from performing the Tleulia and Khisongbo sacri- 
fices, is not herself regarded as particularly unclean, and can 
take part in the Khazangpina and Zangda sacrifices. Preg- 
nant women are not shy of appearing in public, it is only if 
a woman is carrying a bastard that she feels any shame, and 
girls in this unfortunate condition often refuse to go outside 
their houses. Pregnancy, in fact, involves very few restric- 
tions for a woman. If, however, a pregnant woman attends 
a wake, she must not dance, and if her husband dances he 
must not stamp with his feet at the end of the dance, as is 
usually done, lest by doing so he should trample on the spirit 
of his unborn child. It is also ana (forbidden) for a pregnant 
woman to cross a big river, as it is believed that if she does 
so the spirit of the river will seize the soul of the unborn child, 
and that consequently the child will be sickly and will 

1 See Whiffen, North- West Amazons, pp. 124 et seq. Also Mills, The Ao 
, p. 152 and footnote. J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 383 

probably not survive. When a woman is with child, her 
husband must not touch a corpse ; it is ana for him to do so, 
as it is thought that if a man touches a corpse while his wife 
is with child, his wife and her unborn child will die in the 
same way as the person whose corpse was touched. Apart 
from these few religious observances, Lakher women take no 
special precautions when they are going to have a child, but 
carry on with all their ordinary work until the pangs of 
child-birth actually begin. 

It is ana for a woman to give birth to a child in another's 
house, and when this happens the father has to give a dog 
and a fowl for sacrifice to purify the house, but if the birth 
takes place in the verandah, it does not matter. As soon 
as it appears that the birth is imminent, the expectant 
mother is placed in a kneeling position on the floor of the 
house near the bed, and a cane head-band used by women 
for carrying loads is tied to a beam above her ; she holds 
tightly on to this rope, resting her weight on it, and, still 
kneeling on the ground, gives birth to the child. 1 

If a woman finds delivery difficult when holding on to the 
brow-band, she is held by another woman, still in a kneeling 
position. If there is no female relation able to help, the 
husband takes the woman's place, and supports his wife till 
she is safely delivered. As soon as the child is born two 
cotton ligatures are tied round the navel string, which is then 
cut by an experienced woman with a sharpened split bamboo 
between the two ligatures. A bamboo is used to cut the 
navel string, as it is considered to be pure. A steel knife is 
never used for this purpose. One woman takes the child 
and bathes it in cold water to wake it up, while another 
woman helps the mother to get rid of the after-birth, after 
which the mother is bathed in warm water and given food. 
As soon as the child has been bathed it is given warm water 

1 So the Angamis (The Angami Nagas, p. 214), the Kayans of Borneo 
(Hose and McDougall, Pagan Tribes of Borneo, II, 164), some tribes of 
Malaya (Skeat, Malay Magic, 334), and some tribes of the Philippine 
Islands (Cole, The Tingnian, p. 264 ; Wild Tribes ofDarao District, Mindanao, 
p. 100). The Thado Kuki and Sema Naga methods are different, as no head- 
band or hanging support is used at all. Burton (Arabian Nights, II, 80) 
gives a parallel case to that of the Lakhers among the Moslems of Waday, 
and mentions other fashions. J. H. H. 


to drink, to remove the dirt which is believed to have 
collected in its stomach. The next morning the child is 
bathed in warm water. 

In cases of difficult delivery a woman who always gives 
birth to her children with ease is called in, an egg is boiled, 
and the woman who has easy deliveries takes the egg and 
hands it to the woman who is giving birth to eat, and says, 
" May you give birth to your child as easily as I do always." 
Immediately after the birth of a child an aoh called Nawkhu- 
(long is observed, which lasts nine days if the baby is a girl 
and ten days if it is a boy. During these nine or ten days 
the mother must not leave the house, and whenever the 
father goes off to work, he makes a bamboo pin, places it 
in the baby boy or girl's hand and says, " You must not 
follow me to the place where I am going to work." This is 
to stop the child's soul from following its father, as it would 
be most dangerous for the baby's soul to be near its father 
while the latter is at work, as it might get squashed under 
a stone or cut with a dao or an axe, and then the baby would 

For the first three days after birth the child must not be 
taken outside the house ; on the fourth day it is taken into 
the village street, with a hoe for luck and the small pot in 
which its rice is cooked. While the baby is held by its 
mother, another woman pierces its ears with a thorn from 
a lemon tree or a porcupine's quill, and some small solder 
earrings or similar round earrings of cotton thread are placed 
in its ears. If the child is a girl, Radeido takes place on the 
ninth day. Either the father or the mother stands on the 
spot where the birth took place ; the other parent goes under 
the house with a small model basket made of leaves held 
together with cotton thread, two pebbles from beneath the 
house are placed in the basket, the thread is passed up 
through the floor to the other parent inside the house, who 
pulls up the basket and places it on the birthplace. Either 
the father or mother then kills a fowl of either sex on the 
birthplace and anoints the stones with its blood. The fowl 
is cooked, and the phavaw are placed inside the basket with 
the two stones. The leaf basket is then fixed with a bamboo 

iv RELIGION 385 

peg into the wall of the house. The reason for this ceremony 
is the belief that it is possible that when the baby was born 
its soul fell through the floor of the house on to the ground 
beneath, and that as the baby's soul is likely to suffer if it 
remains on the cold ground, and thereby cause the baby to 
become ill, it is necessary to lift it up into the house again. 
The baby's soul enters the basket, the stones are placed in 
the basket with the baby's soul, as stones are heavy and 
strong, and it is hoped that the baby will be strong and 
industrious and able to do heavy work. The cotton thread 
by which the stones are pulled up represents the carrying 
band with which women carry their loads. 

If the baby is a boy, Badeido is held on the tenth l day 
after birth, the ear-piercing ceremonies on the fourth day 
after birth being exactly the same as those for a girl. On 
the tenth day the boy's father makes a bow and arrow, lays 
them on the ground under the house exactly below the spot 
where the child was born. A cotton string is tied round the 
bow and arrow, and the mother pulls them up inside the 
house, and lays them on the floor. The boy's soul, if per- 
chance it had dropped through the floor on to the ground 
when the child was born, is drawn up into the house with 
the bow and arrow. A fowl, either red or black, is sacrificed 
over the bow and arrow, and they are anointed with its 
blood. The fowl is then cooked and eaten by the family. 
Liver, gravy, rice and salt are set aside as phavaw and rubbed 
over the bow. The bow and arrow are tied on to the wall 
above the place where the child was born. The bow and 
arrow are symbolical of success in war and in the chase, and 
are used in hopes that the boy will become a great warrior 
and hunter from being brought into contact with weapons 
at an early age. On the Eadeido day the child, whether boy 

1 This different assessment for male and female is common in Assam, 
vide The Sema Nagas, pp. 218, 233 (c/. 175) ; Mills, The Lhota Nagas, pp. 
158, 159 ; Shaw, Notes on the Thadou Kukis, p. 52 ; Endle, The Kachans, 
p. 41 ; Folk Lore, XXXIX, p. 94 (March 1928). On the Gold Coast the 
ratings are the other way round, vide Cardinall, Natives of the Northern 
Territories of the Gold Coast, pp. 73, 109. Frequent instances of ratings 
similar to those in Assam occur in Nepal (Northey and Morris, The Gurkhas, 
pp. 127, 133, 176, 194, 220, 246). Another instance is afforded by Plutarch, 
ftomane Questions, No. 102, and is discussed by him. J. H. H. 

2 C 


or girl, is taken to its pupa's house and shown to him. The 
pupa gives the child's parents some meat or a fowl and rice ; 
this present must be cooked and eaten on the Radeido day. 
It is thought that if the fowl is not killed and eaten on the 
Radeido day it might be carried off by a hawk or devoured 
by a wild cat, either of which occurrences spells ill luck for 
the baby. On the Radeido day the baby's hair is cut, and 
is kept cut short regularly until the child is eight or nine 
years old ; after which it is allowed to grow until it is long 
enough to be tied in a top knot or a bun, according to the 
sex. The last time the hair is cut is called sarang. The 
child is named on this day by its parents or their friends. 1 
The names to be given are uttered and the leg of the fowl 
sacrificed is placed on the baby's hand. If the baby holds 
the chicken's leg tight in its fist they say that it is pleased 
with the name that has been given it. The names generally 
have reference to the circumstances of the family at the 
time of birth or to some striking occurrence. Children are 
also named after any ancestor who was a great hunter or 
warrior. The next day the aoh on account of the birth 
ceases and the mother goes about her ordinary work. A 
baby's food is cooked in a separate pot until it is able to 
feed itself. The food is first masticated by the mother and 
then given to the baby. On the day it is born the baby is 
given hot water to drink, on the next day it is given chewed 
rice, and when it is a month old the baby is generally given 
a little beer as an introduction to the drink which is a Lakher's 
stand-by at all the most important moments of his life. 

Lakhers say that seven and ten months' children are strong 
and healthy, but that eight and nine months' children are 
generally weakly and die in infancy. Lusheis do not share 
the Lakher belief that seven months' children are healthy ; 
on the contrary, they say that they generally die, and that 
it is only by wrapping them up in cotton wool and taking 
the greatest precautions that any ever survive. Twins are 
not welcomed, as one of them generally dies, but there are 
no superstitions about them, nor are there any about preter- 
natural births. 

1 For Lushei custom, c/. Shakespear, op cit., p. 82.- N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 387 

A child is suckled by its mother until such time as another 
child is born, children often being suckled till they are two 
or three years old, and even sometimes till they are four 
years old. If a woman is unable to suckle her own child 
owing to illness, the child is sometimes handed over to 
another woman to suckle. A foster-mother should belong 
to the same clan as the child's mother or father, though very 
rarely a child may be handed over to a woman belonging to 
another clan. Women most of whose children have died 
are never used as foster-mothers, as it is believed that the 
child may acquire ill-health with the milk from such women. 
An infant whose mother has died after its birth is generally 
fed on rice and sugar-cane, but very few babies survive this 
diet. The rate of mortality among infants is high, and 
survival of the fittest only is the rule. Lakhers tell me that 
only about 40 per cent, of eldest children survive ; younger 
children have a better chance of life, and about 70 per cent, 
are said to survive. 1 In cases where a woman is unable to 
rear her children, who always die as babies, a small plant 
called Hrangzonghna is said to be efficacious. The woman 
sacrifices a fowl at the foot of the plant, and then digs it up, 
dries its root over the hearth and eats it. The root of the 
Hrangzonghna has the property of improving the quality of 
a woman's milk, with the result that after eating it women 
who have lost several children find themselves able to rear 
their next child. 

The After-birth. 

Lakhers are very careless in their disposal of the after- 
birth. If the birth takes place in the day-time, the after- 
birth is put in a basket, and as soon as it gets dark it is 
thrown out through the hole in the floor through which all 
rubbish is dropped out below the house. It is not thrown 
away in the daylight, because the dogs would carry it off 
and eat it in the village street, which would be disgraceful. 
There is no objection to the after-birth being eaten by dogs, 
it is merely disgraceful for other people to see the dogs 

1 Dr. Hutton tells me that most Nagas consider that the youngest son 
is always the best of the bunch. Vide The Angami Nagas , p. 369. N. E. P. 


eating it. The Lusheis, on the other hand, carefully tie up 
the after-birth in a water-tube and hang it in a tree to 
prevent the dogs getting hold of it. 


When a baby is born dead or dies within two or three days 
of birth, it is called nawdong. 1 Such babies are buried by 
their fathers outside the village, sometimes in an earthen- 
ware pot, sometimes just wrapped in a cloth. The whole 
village is aoh for a day, no one may go to work, and the women 
may neither spin nor weave. If the aoh is not observed, it 
is believed that the young paddy will die soon after germina- 
ting, in the same way as the baby has died soon after birth. 
In Savang the aoh is only held for the first baby that dies 
after the jhums have been cut. In Chapi the aoh is held if 
a baby is born dead or dies soon after birth, while the paddy 
is knee high or less. The reason for the aoh is the same in 
all villages. Lusheis call such babies hlamzuih, but observe 
no hrilh and bury them in an earthenware pot, under the 
house or in the garden. Babies dying between the ages of 
one month and three months are known as sai. No wake is 
held for them, no animals are killed for riha, and no sahma 
is prepared for bupa. The grave is dug outside the village 
fence by the young men. 

When a child aged more than three months dies, a wake 
is held and animals are killed as usual. When a child who 
cannot yet talk but who is neither nawdong nor sai dies, a 
dog must be included among the animals killed for riha, so 
that the child's spirit may hold on to the dog's tail and so 
find its way to Athikhi. 


When a child has reached the age of two or three months 
a sacrifice called Nawhri is performed. Every baby is 
supposed to have a hri or disease germ, and the sacrifice is 
to propitiate this hri and to induce it to refrain from making 

1 Cf. Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 86, and Parry, A Monograph 
on Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, pp. 76 and 77. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 389 

the child ill. The sacrifice is performed in most villages on 
the verandah, a special hearth being made on the lower side 
of the verandah as one enters the house. In some villages 
the sacrifice is performed inside the house, and then no 
special hearth is required. In either case the old fire is all 
extinguished and fresh fire kindled from flint and steel or 
with matches. The leaves of certain plants, among them a 
kind of thatch known as pathang, some grass known as 
chapaphaphai (Anthistiria gigantea), a thorned creeper 
called kamakua (Smilax prolifera, Roxb.), a thornless creeper 
called nauhri thanghna (Argyreia Wallichii, Choisy) are 
collected. Some leaves of these plants are taken in the 
right hand, together with the legs of the fowl to be 
sacrificed, the neck of the fowl being held in the left hand. 
The sacrificer utters a prayer for the health of the child, and 
then rubs the fowl and the leaves up and down the child's 
body six times. The fowl is given a little water to drink, 
and if it drinks it means good luck. The leaves are then 
placed on the floor, and the fowl is trussed and blood is 
drawn from its mouth, which is cut with a knife ; the blood 
is dropped in to a gourd called phiathla containing water 
and rice ; the child is then anointed with this blood and 
water on its right big toe, its head, and its spine, after which 
the fowl is killed by breaking its back with a dao. As soon 
as the fowl is dead, its tongue is pulled out and examined to 
see whether the omen is good or not. If when the tongue 
is pulled out the two outer bones are entirely separated from 
each other, the omen is good ; if, however, these two bones 
are joined together by a sinew, the omen is bad, and the 
child is likely to die. 

After this the fowl is cooked, the liver, some comb, some 
gravy, rice, and salt are set aside as phavaw, and the meat 
is eaten by the child's parents only ; it is ana for any one 
else to eat of it. The bones and other remains of the fowl 
are collected together with the bits of cane and the leaves 
used in the sacrifice, and the body of the child is stroked 
with these six times as before, after which they are thrown 
out to the west of the house, the idea being that all the ills 
likely to afflict the child will also disappear in the west like 


the sun. The day after the sacrifice the mother and child 
are aoh, and it is ana for them to leave the house till the 
stars come out in the evening. It is ana for any one to 
enter the house that day ; crossed bamboos are planted in 
front of the house, and any one entering within the fence 
is fined a fowl. This sacrifice is always performed when the 
moon is waning, and it is ana for the mother to eat certain 
foods till the new moon has risen. 

In Savang it is ana for the mother to eat roasted any 
animal or bird that has a tail, as it is believed that the child 
would absorb some of the meat with its mother's milk and 
would become ill, and it is also believed that the hri dislikes 
the smell of roasted meat. Pumpkin leaves must not be 
eaten, as they sting like nettles, nor may the barongthu, a 
kind of pulse which is eaten rotten, as the hri dislikes it. 
In this village the fowl is killed on the ground at the foot of 
the ladder leading up into the house, and the remains of the 
fowl and the leaves are burnt. 

In Saiko, birds with tails, pepper (chilis), rotten fish and 
the meat of animals that a wild animal has killed may not 
be eaten till the new moon has risen. No bird's tails may 
be burnt in the fire, and nothing may be roasted during this 
time. The belief is that the hri or disease germ dislikes the 
smell of burnt feathers, roasted meat and also certain kinds 
of food, and so these are all prohibited. 

In Tisi the mother may not eat the meat of birds, lest the 
spirit of the bird should fly away with the good effects of 
the sacrifice and the child should become ill. 


All Lakhers, both men and women, are given two names. 
The reason for this practice is that the Lakhers believe that 
if a person has only one name, Khazangpa may forget it, 
and if this happens the person is likely to die, as the god, 
having forgotten his existence, will cease to look after him, 
and he will fall an easy prey to the kurahripas. If, on the 
other hand, a person has two names, Khazangpa will probably 
remember one of them, and will look after him when he falls 

iv RELIGION 39 1 

ill. The idea is naive, and does not ascribe a very high 
degree of intelligence to Khazangpa. When the Thla Awh 
sacrifice for calling back a sick man's soul is performed, 
both the patient's names are always called out, to make 
certain that his soul shall know that it is being called. The 
following are some examples of double names : Lairi, Awtha ; 
Chakhang, Pahmo ; Maleu, Chhilai ; Chhochia, Zadia ; 
Chhali, Deuhreu ; Theulai, Kainang. Both names are 
given at Radeido. The second name is not kept secret 
deliberately, but as a rule it is known only to a man's 
relatives. There would be no objection to a friend calling 
a man by his second name, but in practice the first name 
only is used, and if a man is asked his name he gives only 
his first name. Boys are frequently called after their grand- 
father or one of their ancestors, and girls after their grand- 
mother or other female ancestor, but care is taken to call 
children only after persons who were rich, wise, great 
warriors, or famous hunters, in the hope that the attributes 
of the person after whom the child is named may descend 
with the name to the child. Lakhers never name their 
children after their friends or after a fellow-villager, as it is 
considered an insult l to a man to call a child after him, 
and any one calling his child after a living fellow-villager is 
fined by the chief and elders. 

When I was in camp at Saiko in 1928, Mawtheu of Thang- 
sai, a hamlet of Siaha, came and complained that a man of 
Siaha had called his child Mawtheu, and asked that he should 
be fined for this breach of custom. The chief and elders, on 
being consulted, said they had already fined the delinquent 
a pot of beer and ordered him to give his child another name, 
which seemed to meet the case. For this reason one hardly 
ever finds two people in one village with the same name. 
Names are sometimes given with reference to the circum- 
stances of the parents at the time of the child's birth. Thus 
the name Seimeu was given to a child because its mother 

1 Ultimately, no doubt, because identity of name is likely to involve the 
death of the older person on the ground that his substitute has been pro* 
vided in this world, vide The Sema Nagas, p. 237, and Frazer, Golden Bough, 
III, 370. J. H. H. 


had been given no dowry, sei =slave and mew=forget. 
Chhali means " the generation is turned upside down," and 
the bearer of the name was born at the time that the British 
first appeared in the Lakher country. Sarang means " long- 
haired," and the bearer of the name was born with particu- 
larly long hair ; Leipo means " everything has been lost," 
and refers to the poverty of his parents at the time of Leipo 's 
birth. The name Chhonglang was given to the present chief 
of Tisi because at the time he was born his father had been 
on an expedition and had taken a head, thus winning the 
right to wear the red horsehair plume known as a chheutlia, 
chhon=chheutlia and lang=& noise ; another man in Tisi is 
called Tleilang, <Zei separation and langa, noise; when 
Tleilang was born his father had no relations, hence the idea 
of separation, while the lang in this case refers to the fact 
that Tleilang was a very noisy baby who was always crying. 
The name Theulua means " thrown out," and was given to 
its bearer as at the time of his birth his father was turned 
out of Longchei village by the chief. Women are often 
called after flowers or after anything that is good. A girl 
who has a number of sisters but no brothers was called 
Pawki, meaning " all flowers " ; another girl's name is 
Pawthli, meaning " flower-bud " ; another's is Maitha, 
meaning " bright." Women are also sometimes named with 
reference to their parents' circumstances, as, for example, 
Dawku, which means " skilful in metal-work," this girl's 
father being a very expert blacksmith. The name of the 
second son of the Savang chief is Hniachai, which means 
" under the clouds." When Hniachai was born, Veuhei, 
the brother of Hmonglai, the then chief of Savang, had just 
been killed in war, and the whole village was in mourning, 
to which circumstances Hniachai owes his picturesque name. 

Tevo ; this name is in the Savang dialect. Tevo's father 
shot many wild animals and was a famous man, so he called 
his son Tevo. Te many, w> complete, meaning that the 
father had been very successful. 

Ngongkong : 7i^ongr=silver or property, &<m<7=collected. 
Ngongkong's father was very rich, so he gave his son this 
name, which may be translated as " hoard of silver." 

iv RELIGION 393 

Deutha : deu = war, ^a=famous. Formerly Deutha's 
village, Tisongpi, had many famous warriors ; to com- 
memorate this his father gave him the name of Deutha. 

The last example I will give is Khangcheh, whose father 
had five daughters and no son, at which he was much dis- 
pleased ; accordingly, when a son arrived he was named 
Khangcheh, meaning " what I have always longed for." Thus 
it is often possible to deduce what the circumstances of a 
man's parents were from the meaning of his name. Nick- 
names are not used, except in one instance. Supposing a 
young man in Savang is famous for his amusing remarks and 
for making people laugh at gatherings round the beer-pot, 
and there is a young man in Siaha or some other village who 
is similarly gifted, his friends often call the Savang wit by 
the name of the Siaha wit, and vice versa. 

Some names are lucky, and the possessors of such names 
are usually selected to perform the big village sacrifices 
Khisongbo, Tleuliabo, Sapahlaisa and Leuhrangna. The 
following are lucky names : 

Veutang . Lit. " share got," meaning that the owner of the name gets a 

share of meat whenever it is distributed. 
Tangpho . Lit. " everything carry," meaning that if the bearer of the 

name goes to his fields he will have paddy to bring back, 

and if he goes to hunt he will carry back game. 
Tanghmong Lit. " everything get," i.e. the bearer of the name will get all 

he wants. 

Sachai . Lit. " most magnificent." 
Khilai . Lit. " village large." 
Kualei . Lit. " return not," meaning that the owner of the name is 

always successful and never turns back from anything he 

sets out to do. 

There are many other lucky names bearing similar mean- 


When a child's first teeth are coming out, he takes the 
first tooth that conies out and flicks it with a whippy piece 
of bamboo in the direction of the setting sun, and at the 
same times invokes the chameleon, who is supposed to have 
very good teeth, saying, " Oh, chameleon, take my bad 
teeth and give me your good teeth in exchange." l There 

1 For examples of the belief that an animal may bring children new and 
stronger teeth, cf. Frazer, The Golden Bough, part i, vol. i, pp. 178-181. 
N. E. P. 


are no ceremonies connected with the attainment of puberty. 
A boy sleeps in his father's house till he is about nine years 
old, at which age he is sent off to sleep with the other young 
men and boys in some girl's house. Boys take to a loin 
cloth when they attain puberty at about the age of twelve, 
till then they wear no clothes at all ; girls wear a cloth as 
soon as they are old enough to go about the village. A 
boy's hair is generally kept short till he is about nine years 
old, after that it is allowed to grow and is done up in a knot 
over the forehead. It is disgraceful for a Lakher to wear 
short hair, a cropped head^being the hall-mark of slaves and 
lunatics. Men with short hair cannot take part in the 
Khazangpina sacrifice. 

Death Ceremonies. 

Death is caused by Khazangpa or a leurahripa becoming 
angry and confiscating a man's spirit. When a man is ill 
or is about to die, his soul often enters into a pig. When 
this happens, the pig makes a noise like a man groaning. 
Sometimes the soul enters into a tree, and then the tree 
makes a noise like a baby crying. People hearing this noise 
have often looked to see what was making it, and have 
found nothing, and so they know that it must have been a 
dying man's spirit in the tree. 

Again, if a buzzing noise is heard that cannot be accounted 
for, Lakhers think it is the spirit of some man who is dying, 
and they sometimes say ' < that is very like So-and-so's voice," 
and afterwards hear that the man whose voice they thought 
they heard has died. When the sick man is about to expire 
his soul leaves the pig or the tree, or whatever it has entered, 
and returns to its home in its owner's body, and when the 
sick man dies it finally leaves his body and goes off to 
Athikhi, which is said to be below the earth. According to 
Lakhers, normal souls (thlapha) do not enter into animals or 
trees and make noises when a man is dying it is only the 
mischievous souls (thlachhi) with which some persons are 
afflicted that indulge in these vagaries. 

Near Longchei village in Haka is a path called Hawleu- 

iv RELIGION 395 

paka, which path passes between two huge stones, and 
every soul must pass through this gap on its way to Athikhi. 
Living people never use this path. Near Longchei also is a 
stream called the dead men's water supply. It is said that 
any one approaching this stream hears voices talking ; these 
are the voices of the dead, who cease conversing as soon as 
the intruder reaches the spring from which they are drawing 
water. They also say that there is always a swarm of flies 
hovering over this spot, and that these are the spirits of the 
dead l awaiting their turn to draw water. 

There is no second life for the dead, but after a dead 
man's spirit has been a very long time in Athikhi it dies 
again, and when this death of the spirit takes place a chief's 
spirit is turned into heat mist, and a poor man's spirit 
becomes a worm ; the heat mist goes up to heaven and 
vanishes, the worm is eaten by a chicken, and that is an 
end of it. The spirits in Athikhi refer to themselves as 
Hrangzong or immortals, and refer to human beings as 
Pawdua or flowers that fade in a day. When it is noon in 
this world it is night in Athikhi, and night in this world is 
noon in Athikhi. The spirits use bamboo leaves instead of 
fish, regard the large woolly caterpillars as bears, and use 
a large mushroom called athipaso as a fishing-net. Lusheis 
call this mushroom phungsahmim, or the ghost's bag. There 
are numerous other plants to which the Lusheis assign uses 
in the abode of the dead, e.g. mithi buhtun, dead men's 
millet ; mithi sulhlu, dead men's plums ; mithi zongtha, dead 
men's tree beans. In Athikhi 2 people who in this world have 
had several wives or husbands in succession, as the case may 
be, always marry their first wife or their first husband. 
When a man who has had many successful intrigues with 
women dies, on his road to Athikhi he collects a number of 

1 The soul is thought of as flying in the f orm of a butterfly or bee, at any 
rate all over Europe from Ireland to Lithuania, in Assam, Burma, Japan, 
and the Pacific. J. H. H. 

* This word Athikhi is interesting ; obviously it means village (khi) of the 
Dead (thi), and is etymologically the same as the Thado Mi>thi-khu, while 
the syllable thi reappears in the Sema words for " die " and " dead." The 
Ao word tiya, meaning the sky soul on which the life of a man depends, is 
perhaps connected, as well as the Polynesian tii, the figure made to accom- 
modate the soul of a dead man. J. H. H. 


small stones equal in number to the girls with whom he has 
been successful, and places them at the gateway to Athikhi, 
to show his friends how many women have succumbed to 
his charms. Even in Athikhi men are not equal ; a chief in 
this world remains a chief in Athikhi, and a slave remains a 
slave. The rich remain rich, and the poor remain poor. 

There are three separate abodes to which the spirits of 
the dead may be sent. The pleasantest abode is Peira, 
which is nearest to Khazangpa, and corresponds to our 
Paradise. Attainment of Peira is very difficult, and the 
only way to get there is by killing certain wild animals. I 
have been given the following list of the animals which must 
be killed to qualify for this abode of bliss. A man, an 
elephant, a tiger, a bear, a small tree bear, a serow, a gural, 
a mithun, a rhinoceros, a sambhur, a barking deer, a wild 
boar, a crocodile, a hamadryad, an eagle, a specimen of each 
kind of hornbill found in the Lakher country and a king 
crow. Over each of these animals and birds the la ceremony 
must be performed. A man who has qualified in this way 
is known as Hrapaki or Chhongki, and is eligible for Peira. 
Whatever may have been the case in the old days, I fear 
that now the standard will have to be lowered, or no one 
at all will ever reach Peira, as not only has Government 
declared a permanent close time for men, but the other 
larger animals are much scarcer than they were. 

Prowess in love is of no avail as a help on the road to 
Peira, though among the Lusheis it is of great assistance. 
The Siaha chief's clan, who are influenced by Chin custom, 
say that those who have performed the Khangchei feasts 
can also attain to Peira. This is peculiar to the Siaha 
Khicha Hleuchhang clan, as no other Lakhers ever perform 
these feasts, and even among the Khicha Hleuchhang clan 
the mere giving of feasts is not enough, unless the prescribed 
animals have been slain as well. A man who reaches Peira 
takes his wife with him when she dies, and also his children. 

The abode of all ordinary spirits is Athikhi. Sawvaw, 
people who have died unnatural deaths, and thichhi, those 
who have died of certain loathsome diseases, go to Sawvawkhi. 
All spirits start along the same road ; when they get to the 

iv RELIGION 397 

place where the roads branch they find the Chhongchhongpipa, 
a Lakher Cerberus, who sends those bound for Athikhi by the 
right-hand road, while the sawvaw and thichhi are sent by 
the left-hand road to Sawvawkhi. Chhongchhongpipas are the 
spirits of men who, either from impotency or from any other 
causes, have never had sexual intercourse with a woman. 
The Lakhers consider that such people have not fulfilled the 
purpose of their lives on earth, and so are unable to reach 
Athikhi, but are condemned to remain for ever hovering on 
the road between this world and Athikhi. 1 Not only does 
the Chhongchhongpipa show the spirits the way to their 
abode, but he makes a perfect nuisance of himself to all 
spirits who pass along the road by stealing their cloths and 
making them go to Athikhi naked. If a spirit has two cloths, 
the Chhongchhongpipa always steals the lowest cloth, so when 
a Lakher dies, in addition to the cloth he is wrapped in, a 
small piece of cloth is placed under his armpit for the 
Chhongchhongpipa to steal. The Tangkul Kokto is a more 
intelligent demon, as he always appropriates the best cloths 
brought along by the spirits. The Chhongchhongpipa has 
another unpleasant habit of refusing to allow any spirit to 
pass until it has picked off his fleas. Now the Chhongchhong- 
pipa's fleas are no ordinary fleas, but are large hairy cater- 
pillars, which are extremely unpleasant to kill, and which 
it is impossible to crack like ordinary fleas. Before a 
Lakher is buried, therefore, sesamum seeds are placed 
between each of his fingers, and when the Chfongchhongpipa 
tells a spirit to catch his fleas, the spirit cracks the sesamum 
seeds with his teeth and says, " You hear, I have cracked 
your fleas/' and the Chhongchhongpipa allows him to pass. 2 
Although Lakhers hold that when an adult dies the spirit 
goes to Athikhi, whence it never returns, there is a strong 

1 There is a widespread idea that virginity is a bar to paradise, vide my 
note 6 at p. 228 of Mills' The Ao Nagas, To the words cited there may be 
added that of the Toradja of the Celebes (Moss, Life After Death in Oceania, 
p. 112) ; c/. also S tally brass' Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, II, 824, and the 
old English belief that women dying unmarried will " lead apes in hell." 
J. H. H. 

* The Sema Kolavo and the Tangkul Kokto closely resemble the Chhong- 
chhongpipa. Similar demons are the Ao Moyotsung, the Angami Metsimo 
and the Lushei Pupawla. See Mills, The Ao Nagas, p. 227, and Dr. Button's 
note on that page, N. E. P. 


belief that the spirits of children are sometimes reborn in 
the person of a younger brother or sister, and I have been 
given definite instances in support of this belief. In Longba 
village one Seikia and his wife Tleihia had a son called 
Laikha. To the great grief of his parents, Laikha died 
when he was about five years old. Before burying Laikha, 
his mother made a mark on his ankle with soot from off the 
cooking-pot, and when the corpse was laid in the grave the 
parents called out, " Come back to us again." After a 
while Tleihia gave birth to another son, on whose ankle is 
a black mark similar to that made on Laikha's ankle before 
he was buried. This boy was given the two names Laikha 
Laribai, and is now about nine years old. A second instance 
is recorded from Chakhang, where Hneuchang and his wife 
Bithli lost their son Leimaw when he was quite a child, and 
before burying him marked his cheek with the black off a 
cooking-pot. Not long after, Bithli gave birth to another 
son with a black mark on his cheek on the same place as 
the mark had been made on the dead Leimaw's cheek. 
This boy with the birth-mark is called Viachho, and is now 
about twenty and living in Chakhang. 

The last instance I will give is one from Chapi. There 
were two brothers, Hlikhai and Khaikia, who were very 
fond of one another. Khaikia, however, died, and his 
mother marked the side of his head with soot before burying 
him, and called out, " My son, come back to your brother 
Hlikhai and his wife." Later on Hlikhai married, and in 
due course his wife gave birth to a son with a black mark 
on the side of his head corresponding to the mark made on 
the dead Khaikia's head. This child is called Thlutha, and 
is now about three years old. Such phenomena might easily 
convince people far more sophisticated than the Lakhers 
that in these cases the spirit of the dead had returned 
and been born again. Possibly the marks on the new-born 
babies were produced by the mothers while pregnant 
letting their minds dwell on the marks made on the dead 
children, thus causing similar marks to develop on their 
unborn offspring, but the Lakhers believe firmly that the 
souls of the dead children have been born again, and who 

iv RELIGION 399 

shall say that the belief is any more unreasonable than 
other beliefs held by more civilised people ? Lusheis have 
a somewhat similar tale of a couple whose children regularly 
died as babies. After five or six had died, the mother placed 
a black mark on the forehead of the next to die, and when 
the next baby was born it had a black mark on its forehead 
on the same place. From this the Lusheis deduced that 
the same soul had been reborn again and again in each of 
the children that died. This Lushei story dates from the 
last generation, while the Lakher instances relate to recent 
events and are well authenticated, Laikha of Longba and 
Viachho of Chakhang having dark marks on the places 
at which their deceased brothers are said to have been 
marked with lamp-black. 


When a Lakher is ill he is taken off the bed and laid on 
the middle of the floor, and his friends and relations who are 
looking after him sit around him. The floor is preferred to 
the bed, as it is much lighter, and it is easier both for the 
sick man and for the people who are looking after him to 
see. When the sick man appears to be dying he is raised 
up into a sitting position and held there by his relations 
until he draws his last breath. It is considered better that 
a man should die in the arms of his relations than lying flat 
on the floor. As soon as death has taken place, if there is 
a gun in the house it is fired off, so that the dead man's 
spirit may take the spirit of a gun with it to Atikhi, and also 
that the villagers may know that the sick man has departed. 
After this the body is washed with warm water by some close 
relation, the hair is greased and properly tied, and the body 
is fully dressed as in life if deceased was a man, with a 
loin cloth, a body cloth and a puggree, and if a woman, 
with all her best cloths. Two bamboos are placed sloping- 
wise against the wall at the back of the house, and a mat 
is placed across these bamboos, and the body is laid on the 
mat in a reclining position, with its feet on the floor. 
Against the wall above the dead man's head a small shelf 


is erected, on which rice and cooked eggs are placed for the 
spirit to eat. Special care is taken to see that flies do not 
settle on the body, as it is very disgraceful if they do so. 1 
A wake is held, which is attended by all the deceased's 
friends, who bring sahma beer, which on this occasion only 
is known as bupa, and mithun, pigs, or whatever animals 
may be available are killed as riha to accompany the spirit 
to Athikhi. The deceased's pupa, who is entitled to the 
deceased's ru or death due, must also kill a pig. Usually 
the body is kept in the house for two or three days, and on 
each day a little rice, meat and sahma are placed in 
deceased's mouth. Meanwhile the wake goes on, and a feast 
is held off the meat of the animals killed to go with the 
deceased to Athikhi. Sahma and rice are contributed by the 
deceased's friends, and dancing to the beating of drums and 
gongs goes on all the time. This feast is intended to make 
the deceased's spirit go off happily to Athikhi. During the 
wake, which is called rikia, the deceased's pupa, who is his 
maternal uncle, stands on the verandah ; and, facing to- 
wards the dead body, calls out the name of the dead man 
and the names of his ancestors, in order to let the spirits 
in Athikhi know who is coming, and cries out, "Go to 
Athikhi happily : do not worry about your relations." Next 
the deceased's pupa makes cuts on the beams and door- 
ways of the house with a dao. This is done to frighten 
the Chhongchhongpipa, who stands on the road to Athikhi 
and waylays all spirits, so as to make him allow the 
deceased's spirit to go to Athikhi. Having done this, the 
deceased's pupa dances round inside the house three times, 
and is followed by all the persons present in turn, one man 
dancing round at a time, followed by two women. The 
object of the dance is to please the deceased's ghost. At 
this dance beer is provided by the deceased's family and 
relations. Each trio dances round three times, and at the 
end of each round all stamp with their feet on the ground 
to show that the dance is ended. When the husband of a 
pregnant woman dances, he must not stamp with his feet 

1 Ci. Mills, TheAo Nagas, p. 278, and note 3 , where other cases are cited. 
J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 401 

at the end of the dance, or he will trample on the spirit 
of his unborn child. The old men chant a song without 
words, called the athihla, intoning, A-dh E-eh A-eh E-eh. 
Meanwhile the feast goes on ; the women are served by 
women and the men by men, the young men who have 
been digging the grave being served last. On the day fixed 
for the burial the deceased's pupa comes and stands on 
the verandah of the deceased's house and sends an envoy 
(leuchapa) into the house to claim the athiawrua, which 
consists of a pig, and the afhiawruabawna, which consists of 
5 rupees. The deceased's relations then kill a pig and make 
it over with 5 rupees and a dao to his pupa. This is pre- 
liminary to claiming the death due, which is not demanded 
till later. 

Burials always take place in the evening, and before 
the corpse is taken out of the house the deceased's 
pupa again makes cuts on the beams and doorways as 
before. The grave is dug by the young men of the village, 
whether they belong to the deceased's clan or not, in front 
of the deceased's house or in the village street, except 
among the Sabeus of Chapi, Chakang and some Haka villages, 
who have cemeteries outside the village. The pupa first goes 
to the grave and climbs down into it ; after him follow the 
young men carrying the body dressed in the cloths it was 
laid out in and wrapped in a blue cloth, and then come the 
deceased's relations. The body is laid on the edge of the 
grave, the deceased's wife or husband, as the case may be, taps 
the body gently with his hands and says, " Do not worry 
about me ; go off happily to Athikhi," and places a little sahma 
in the deceased's mouth. The young men lift the corpse into 
the grave. If guns are available they are fired off, so that 
the dead man may take them with him to Athikhi, and the 
pupa lays down the corpse, pushes it feet first into the 
alcove hollowed out for it at one end of the grave, 1 and closes 
the alcove with a stone. The pupa climbs out of the grave 
and goes off home. The young men fill in the grave and 

1 This method of making a grave seems common in Indonesia. <7/. 
Notes on the Thadou Kukis, p. 55 n. 2 and p. 56 n. 1 , and see Cole, The 
Tinguian, p. 287. J. H. H. 

2 I) 


lay a flat stone along the top of it, on which to place a small 
portion of all the component parts of the morning meal, 
which is done every day until the memorial stone has been 
erected. A forked post is planted on the grave, on which 
are hung plantains, sugar-cane, limes and any other fruits 
that are available, and a gourd of nicotine-water is placed 
on the stone. Another straight post is erected on the grave, 
to which the heads of the animals killed for riha are attached. 
Some people, instead of placing the food for the spirit on 
the stone above the grave, place it in a pot which is kept 
for the purpose above the hearth. 

The dead man's relations now return home, and as they 
enter the verandah each steps on to a sieve containing a 
little rice, which has been placed ready for the purpose, and 
goes on into the house. This is to show that the soul of 
the dead has gone to Athikhi, and that his relations are again 
clean, rice being an emblem of purity. That evening the 
pupa's wife brings a fowl and some sahmahei (fermented 
rice), and sacrifices the fowl, to console the souls of the sur- 
viving members of the deceased's family, and anoints the 
big toe of each with the fowl's blood ; she then gives each 
of them a little sahmahei to eat and returns home. This 
ceremony is called Thlathleu, and is an important sacrifice, 
as it is essential that the souls of the deceased's family 
should be at peace, as if any member of it sees any one in 
his dreams on the night of the funeral, the person dreamed 
of will soon die also. The belief is that on the night of the 
funeral the spirit of the deceased comes to visit his family, 
and if they are dreaming of any one, the deceased's spirit 
meets the spirit of the person dreamed of and seizes it and 
carries it off with him to Athikhi. 

On the morning after the funeral one of the neighbours 
always asks the deceased's relatives whether they had any 
dreams during the night or not ; if the answer is " No," all 
is well, but if one of the family dreamt of any one that 
night, he must say so, as it is very unlucky for the person 
dreamt of. If the dream was that the dead man appeared 
again alive in the house, it means that another member of 
the family will die. 

iv RELIGION 403 

A further precaution is often taken to prevent the de- 
ceased's relations or other villagers from dreaming on the 
night of the funeral. Each householder, before going to 
sleep, puts a little cooked rice into a pot, and each member 
of the household says, " May my spirit not wander about 
to-night, let it remain within this pot " ; having said this, 
each person puts his hand inside the pot and touches the 
rice. By this means the spirits are kept imprisoned inside 
the pots, and as they cannot wander about and meet other 
people's spirits, the owners of the imprisoned spirits do not 
dream of any one that night, and so cause no one any harm. 
Another way of preventing the soul from escaping from its 
owner's house is to place a paddy pestle across the door, as 
the soul will fear to go under it, lest the pestle should fall 
on it. 

In Tisi, to prevent the deceased's spirit from re-entering 
his house on the night of the funeral, a hen is taken and 
some of its feathers are cut off while standing on the ladder 
leading into the house. The feathers fall on each side of 
the ladder, and act as a barrier which the spirit cannot cross. 
The cutting off of the feathers of a live hen is symbolical of 
the final separation of the spirit from its relations. The hen 
is not sacrificed, but is released after its feathers have been 
cut. I have found this ceremony only in Tisi ; it is called 
Awhhmichaikha, and is to show the dead man's spirit that 
if it returns they will cut it in the same way as they cut 
the hen's feathers. 

When a death has taken place in a village, all the people 
are very afraid lest the spirit of the dead should enter their 
houses at night and do them harm. To prevent this each 
householder places his paddy pestle across the doorway. 
When the dead person's spirit comes along, it sees what it 
thinks is a huge snake, and retreats in terror. More in- 
telligent spirits are said to recognise the pestle, but, fearing 
that it might fall and crush them if they attempt to enter, 
return whence they came. 

After the funeral all fires in the deceased's house must 
be quenched and fresh fire must be kindled. The old fire, 
having been used for cooking the meats for the funeral 


feast and for all kinds of purposes during the lifetime of 
the deceased, is held to be defiled. If new fire were not 
made, the Khazangpina and Zangda sacrifices would be of 
no avail. Khazangpa and Zang would know at once that 
the sacrifice had been cooked on an impure fire, and would 
get angry, and the sacrifice would do more harm than good. 
It is therefore ana to use fire on which funeral meats have 
been cooked for Khazangpina and Zangda, and new fire 
must be made immediately after a funeral. 1 The fowl 
sacrificed by the pupa's wife for Thlatheu is cooked on the 
new fire and eaten ; no phavaw are set aside. All persons 
who have touched a corpse must cleanse themselves by 
washing their bodies with water and rice. Rice is the 
purest of all things, and removes the evil smell of the corpse 
and all other defilements. Unless this purificatory cere- 
mony is performed a man must not touch his anahmang, 
the vessels dedicated to the service of Khazangpa, or they 
would be defiled, and Khazangpa would be annoyed and 
would wreak vengeance for the insult offered to him. It is 
ana to walk over a corpse. If any one does so, the spirit 
of the deceased removes the strength of the man crossing 
over his body and carries it off to Athikhi. People who 
disregard this prohibition become suddenly weak and feeble 
when on a journey, and are unable to proceed. 

The day after a funeral the deceased's family is said to 
be sawpana. This pana is strictly observed, as if it is 
disregarded the deceased's saw may cause misfortune or 
sickness to other members of the family. No member of 
the family may leave the village, no work may be done, and 
the women may neither spin nor weave. The day after 
this sawpana a bamboo fence is erected round the grave. 
If any of deceased's relations have been unable to attend 
the wake, they must come after the funeral and see the grave, 
and pour a little sahma on it, and must go and give the 
deceased's family sahma and condole with them. This is 
known as Athiahmo. If a deceased's pupa neither attends 
the wake nor visits his grave after the burial, the deceased's 

1 Among the Tangkuls also all fires are put out after a funeral and fresh 
fires are kindled. Cf. Hodson, op cit., p. 151. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 405 

family will claim a hmiatla or atonement price of 2 or 3 
rupees from him. When a Lakher attends the funeral of 
a friend or relation in another village, precautions are taken 
to ensure that he shall not carry home with him the spirit 
of the disease (hri) from which his relation died, and thereby 
infect himself and any of his fellow- villagers. Before leaving 
the lands of the village in which the funeral has taken place, 
a fire is kindled, and the visitors step over the fire. A disease- 
bearing spirit (hri) cannot pass over a fire, and so is unable 
to follow the visitors home. By this means the dangers 
involved in attending a funeral in another village can be 

When a wealthy or an important man dies and a mithun 

or a cow is sacrificed for his riha, an additional ceremony, 

called Rakhatla, is performed while the body is in the house, 

and artificial flowers, called tatangteuleupa, are made out of 

small pieces of bamboo, which are placed crosswise one over 

the other and wound round and round with coloured threads. 

The Lusheis make similar flowers, which they call lenglep 

and use at the Daibawl sacrifice of a hen and a cock offered 

to a ramhuai, a spirit of the rivers or woods, when any one 

is ill, and hang them up over the place of sacrifice. Lenglep 

are not used by Lusheis at funerals. The Eakhatla is a 

peculiar dance, performed only on the occasion of funerals, 

and at no other time. A log is laid on the ground, and five 

people, men or women, sit opposite each other on each side 

of the log. Each person holds a bamboo in each hand, the 

other end of the bamboo being held by his vis-a-vis. The 

bamboos are struck against the log twice and then raised 

and struck twice against each other ; the dancers have to 

skip in and out between the bamboos and avoid getting caught 

between the bamboo clappers, which requires a good deal of 

skill, the dance becoming faster and faster as it proceeds. 

The young men who dance wear their best cloths, and the 

first time they dance each carries a bag, a powder-flask and 

a gun ; the girls each carry a new skirt, a new cloth, a man's 

loin-cloth, a new woman's coat and a bag. These articles 

are for the spirit of the deceased to take with him to Athikhi. 

The second time that each man and girl performs the dance, 


instead of the cloths he carries a tall bamboo from which 
all the leaves have been removed and replaced with tatang- 
teuleupa. This dance is performed each day that the body 
remains in the house. 1 When the grave has been filled in, 
the bamboos with the tatangteuleupa are erected on it, and 
the bamboos and log of wood used for the Rakhatla are 
thrown away outside the village. The Lushei Cherokan is 
danced in the same way by young men and girls, but purely 
for amusement, and without any religious significance. 
Instead of the log of wood in the middle and the bamboo 
clappers, the Lusheis use paddy pestles. 

Unnatural deaths are regarded as extremely unlucky, and 
are the occasion of special precautions designed to save 
other people from a similar fate. Any one who dies an 
unnatural death being killed by a wild animal, drowned, 
killed by a fall from a tree or a precipice, killed in war or 
by a shooting accident is known as a sawvawpa. A woman 
who dies in child-bed (naweupasi) is also said to be sawvaw. 
All sawvaws are ana, or unlucky, and when any one dies 
sawvaw there is a village aoh for from three to five days, 
starting on the day of the funeral, and neither men nor 
women may leave the village or do any work. 2 When a 
woman dies in child-bed (naweupasi), the women who go to 
draw water during the aoh must use men's carrying-bands 
for their water-tube baskets. The reason for this is that 
when a Lakher woman is giving birth to a child she holds 
on to the cane carrying-band of her water-tube basket, which 
is hung up on the beam above her, and the women fear that 
if they used their own head-bands during the aoh for a 
woman who died in child-bed they would suffer the same 
fate. The aoh for naweupasi applies to men as well as to 
women. The aoh for sawvaw is observed partly owing to 

1 A very similar dance to Rakhatla is performed by the Dyak women of 
Borneo, who dance between wooden paddy pestles clapped together by 
two other women, but the Dyaks do not seem to confine the dance to 
funerals. Cf. W. O. Krohn, In Borneo Jungles, pp. 210, 211. Among the 
Haka Chins the dance is called Rawkarrklak, and is performed at lam eher 
(the death dance) when the ceremony is being held in honour of a woman. 
Only women take part in it. Cf. W. B. Head, Haka Chin Customs, p. 27. 
. E. P. 

* Cf. Hodson, The Naga Tribes of Manipur, p. 88. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 407 

sorrow for the deceased and sympathy for his relatives, and 
partly from fear that the same fate will befall others unless 
the aoh is observed. 

When the body of a man who has died sawvaw is brought 
back to the village, it is wrapped up in bamboo matting 
and is left for one night outside the village fence, and the 
deceased's relations and friends light fires and watch the 
body all night. Next morning the body is brought into the 
village and laid in the verandah of deceased's house, but it 
does not sit in state. The body may not be taken inside 
the house, as it is believed to have a saw, or the property 
of causing sickness, and so if the body is taken inside the 
house the deceased's relations fear that they will suffer the 
same fate. A wake is held as usual, animals are killed to ac- 
company the spirit to Sawvawkhi, and sahma is drunk, but 
there is no dancing. The body is buried outside the village to 
the west, so that the sun, as it sinks, may carry the evil away, 
and the funeral takes place before dawn by torch-light. 
The grave is dug differently from ordinary graves, and a 
sawvawpa's pupa, if he is living in another village, very often 
does not bother to come to bury him, as he will get no ru. 1 
No memorial posts or stones are erected for a sawvaw, nor 
is any food for his spirit placed on the grave, but if an animal 
has been killed for riha its head is buried with the body. 
The spirits of people who have died unnatural deaths have 
a separate abode from ordinary spirits. They start along 
the ordinary road, but when they reach the Chhongchhongpipa, 
he stops them and turns them off by a branch road which 
leads to their special abode. If the parents of a sawvawpa 
are rich, when they die they can rescue his spirit and bring 
it to the abode of all normal spirits by paying a ransom to 
the leurahripa who caused his death. They cannot do this 
while alive, but only after death. In Chapi there are stricter 
prohibitions than in the other villages. The body is not 
taken even into the verandah, but is left at the foot of the 
ladder leading up to the house. Only members of the 
deceased's clan can touch the body or perform the funeral 

1 These customs approximate very closely to those of the Thado, vide 
Notes on the Thado Kukis, p. 56 n. 1 J. H. H. 


rites. Any one going to the wake must, if a man, empty 
the tobacco out of his pipe, and if a woman throw away the 
nicotine-water out of the bowl of her pipe before going home, 
lest the sawvawpa's saw should have got into the tobacco 
and should be carried home in it and cause illness. The 
body of a woman who has died in child-bed is never taken 
out of the house by the door, but through a hole cut in the 
back wall ; this is done because, as the spirits of women who 
have died in child-bed do not follow the road taken by the 
spirits of those who have died natural deaths, but have to 
go by another path to the Sawvawkhi, it is considered that 
the body should not leave the house by the ordinary path, 
but should also take a different path to the grave. 1 The 
Lushei sarthi is the same as sawvaw, but the Lusheis do not 
fear unnatural deaths to the same extent as Lakhers, and 
do not take so many precautions ; but among them also no 
death due can be claimed for any one who has died sarthi. 

Among the Tlongsai, Zeuhnang and Hawthai a special 
hole is cut in the wall of the house leading on to the verandah, 
and the corpse of a woman who has died in child-birth is 
carried out through this hole instead of through the door, 
for the same reason. No ru can be claimed for any one dying 
sawvaw, and if a woman dies sawvaw the balance of her price 
cannot be claimed. Besides the sawvawpa, another class of 
unfortunates called thichhi are also condemned to go to the 
Sawvawkhi. Any one dying of dropsy, paralysis, owing to 
losing an arm or a leg, blind of both eyes, mad, or covered 
with sores due to leprosy, syphilis, or yaws is known as 
thichhi. The spirits of thichhi have a peculiar and un- 
pleasant smell, which the ordinary spirits dislike, so the 
Chhongchhongpipa does not let them into Athikhi. No ru 
can be claimed from the heir of a person who has died 
thichhi, and if a woman dies thichhi the balance of her price 
cannot be claimed. As a matter of fact, no one would ever 
claim these dues on account of a thichhi, as it is ana to do so, 
and any one taking the dues would die or suffer great mis- 

1 Sawvaw and thichhi may be compared with the Ao apotia which covers 
both these classes of deaths. 6/. Mills, The Ao Nagas, pp. 283 et seq. Of. 
also J. H. Hut ton, The Sema Nagas, p. 234. Semas take the body of a 
woman who died in childbirth out by the back door. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 409 

fortunes. The corpse is buried in the same way as a sawvaw, 
but is never kept for more than one day. 

If a man while on a journey dies in the house of any one 
belonging to a different clan, the man in whose house the 
death took place can claim a pig and a fowl from the 
deceased's relatives for a sacrifice to purify the house, which 
has been defiled by the death of a stranger, and can also 
claim a fine, which varies in the different villages, but is 
usually an earthenware beer-pot (radio) or 10 rupees. The 
sacrifice is called Angpataina. 1 The fowl is first killed, and 
thrown away towards the west outside the village fence, 
in the belief that the disease-bearing spirit (hri) which caused 
the death of the stranger will follow the chicken and dis- 
appear in the west. The pig is then killed and eaten. A 
little of the blood of the fowl and the pig is rubbed on the 
verandah and inside the house to purify it. 

A Lakher intensely dislikes a stranger dying in his house, 
and if a stranger falls ill in another's house, the owner of the 
house often causes the sick man to be carried outside when 
at the point of death to avoid the death taking place inside 
the house. Leichhia of Saiko went to Lungleh for work, on 
his way home he fell ill in Paitha, he grew rapidly worse, and 
when he seemed to be dying his friends carried him outside 
the house and laid him on the ground, where he died. They 
did this at the request of the host and also to save Leichhia's 
relations from having to pay a pig and a fowl as Angpataina. 

A young man of Bualpui while staying in the house of 
Hnangthlo of Saiko fell ill ; before he died he was carried 
outside the house by his friends at the order of their chief 
Ngunlinga, who was with them. Ngunlinga and his villagers 
are Pois, but the Lakher and Poi customs in this respect 
are the same. 


The Lakhers always bury their dead, and, so far as I can 
ascertain, there are no traces of either cremation or platform 

1 The Lushois claim a due called Insilman house -cleaning price, in 
similar circumstances. Of. N. E. Parry, Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, 
p. 79. N. E. P. The Thado call it w&o'wem= house-dirtying price. 

jr. H. H. 


burial. Unlike the Lusheis, they never use coffins, the 
corpses being simply wrapped in a cloth. There are three 
kinds of graves. Chiefs and important persons generally 
have family vaults, which are called thlapi or longang, 
situated near the house. The Savang vault is in the chief's 
garden, between his house and that of the dowager chieftain- 
esses. The Saiko chief's vault is in front of the chief's 
house. Longang means literally " stone house." 

The Lakhers are not singular in liking to have their dead 
near them : in parts of Scotland I have noticed that a favourite 
burial-place is in the grounds not far from the house. This 
absence of dislike to the proximity of the dead seems to be 
common to many primitive races, certainly to those in the 
Assam Hills. A vault is made by digging a pit about 6 feet 
deep, 8 feet long, and 6 feet wide. The floor, sides and roof 
are lined with stones ; a small space is left as a doorway and 
is closed with a large stone. When a vault has been made, 
a mithun must be killed for the riha of the first person buried 
in it, and after this all members of the family who die are 
laid to rest in the same vault. The Savang vault contains 
the remains of Keinang, Ngongthaw, Hmonglai, and 
Vachhong, the last four chiefs, and also of Keinang's wife, 
Nona, and of Ngongthaw's wife, Nguhlia. The Saiko vault 
contains the bones of Theulai and his wife, and of Siatu's 
wife only, as Theulai's father was buried at Theiva. When 
a body is placed in a vault, valuable ornaments and guns 
are often deposited with it for the use of the spirit of the 
deceased in the next world, the articles selected being those 
that the dead man habitually used and liked. 1 When 
Theulai of Saiko was buried, as he had been a great hunter 
and warrior in his youth, his spear, his sword and his dao, 
to which he was greatly attached, were buried with him. 
When a vault has to be opened to receive another inmate, 
this must be done by the sister or the sister's son of the 
person who is to be buried ; if deceased had no sister, then 
his daughter or her son must open it. When she opens the 
vault this woman picks up the head and bones of the last 

1 The Haka Chins also do so. Of. Carey and Tuck, The Chin Hills, 
p. 192. N. B. P. 

iv RELIGION 41* 

person buried, wraps them in a cloth, and places them on 
one side of the vault ; she then sweeps all the debris on the 
floor of the vault into one corner, and the corpse awaiting 
burial is placed inside by its pupa or his representative in 
the usual way. 

The woman who opens the vault is entitled to take all the 
articles buried with the last corpse ; this is called thupahama, 
which means the price of touching the evil-smelling remains. 
When Vachhong, chief of Savang, died, many valuable orna- 
ments and gongs that had been buried with his predecessor, 
Hmonglai, were taken by Ngongchia, mother of the Chapi 
chief, who was Vachhong's niece, and so opened the grave. 
These articles were thus all lost to the Bonghia family. 
When Theulai was buried, his sister Maicha opened the 
grave and took as thupahama, four metal belts which had 
been buried with Siatu's wife. The desecration of graves in 
order to steal the articles buried in them is quite unknown. 
It is very curious that articles of value buried in vaults should 
ultimately descend in the female line and so be lost to the 
family and clan that originally owned them, as this is the 
reverse of the ordinary Lakher custom of inheritance. It 
seems probable that this must have survived from a time 
when inheritance was matrilineal. 

On the day that a vault is opened the whole village is pana 
for a day, lest the paddy should rot in the same way as the 
corpses in the vault have rotted. This pana is known as 
thlathupaheu. Although Lewin states that a " a chief or a 
woman of position is buried in a sitting posture, as among 
the Bunjogees," l I find that nowadays, at any rate, no 
Lakher is ever buried in any other way except lying straight 
out flat, and all those I have asked say that corpses never 
were buried in a sitting position. 2 The corpse when it is 

1 Lewin, The Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Dwellers Therein, p. 115, 
N. E. P. 

2 Precisely the same information exists about the Thado. Brown, 
Native State of Manipur, p. 51, and Annual Report of the Munnipore 
Political Agency, 1868-69, p. 132, very definitely described the Thado as 
buried sitting, but the idea of such a practice is now scouted by men who 
might be expected to know. I think Brown's and Lewin' s evidence too 
good to be rejected, and that the custom has changed since 1869, in which 
year Lewin also published the book referred to. J. H. H. 




lying in the house is in a reclining position, and it is possibly 
from this that Lewin got the idea that Lakhers were buried 
sitting. Their nearest relations, the Haka Chins, sit in 
state after death, like the Lakhers, and are also buried pros- 
trate. 1 Another old authority, however, Sir Arthur Phayre, 
recording a report made to him by Lengkung, a Lungkhe 
chief, as regards Lungkhe and Tseindu customs, notes 
Lengkung as saying, " We bury our dead ; the corpse is 
placed in a sitting posture, with a pipe in its mouth, food by 
its side and kung." 2 It would seem, therefore, that formerly 
either the Lakhers or one of the tribes allied to them must 
have buried their dead sitting, and that if the Lakhers did 
so, they have now entirely abandoned the practice. I am 
inclined to think, however, that this burial custom ascribed 
to the Shendus by Lewin and Phayre must have been 
followed by some other tribe, and not by the Lakhers, as no 
traces or traditions of burial in a sitting posture exist among 
them to-day. 

A commoner's grave is called thlata, and is generally dug 
in front of the deceased's house. A hole about 5 feet deep, 
5 feet long, and 2J feet wide is first dug out ; when this is 
complete, a narrow hole just large enough to hold the body 
is burrowed out at one end of the grave. When the burial 


takes place the body is lowered into the outer grave and then 
pushed feet first into the hole, which is closed with a large 
stone, the outer grave being filled in with earth. There is no 
particular mode of placing the corpse ; the head may lie 
towards the north, south, east or west indiscriminately. 

1 Carey and Tuck, The Chin Hills, p. 192. N. E. P. 
8 Phayre, "Account of Arakan," J.A.S.B., 1841, No. 117, p. 
N. E, P. 


iv RELIGION 413 

The head is never disinterred and buried separately, and 
bamboo tubes are never let down into the grave to let the 
soul escape, i 

The grave of a person who has died an unnatural death is 
called thlachhi, and is always dug outside the village fence, 
on the west of the village, towards the setting sun. The 
grave is dug at first in the same way as a fhlatha, but instead 
of the hole for the body being excavated at the end of the 
grave, it is excavated at one side ; the body is placed in this 
alcove and kept in place by a log of wood or by bamboos. 
The grave is then filled up with earth. The head of the body 
may lie in any direction. The different construction of the 
graves of sawvaw and thichhi from those of persons dying a 
natural death is due to the fact that the spirits of these 
unfortunates go to a separate place. 



When a chief dies, the whole village goes into mourning 
and no music or merrymaking is allowed until heads, formerly 
human, now of animals only, have been taken for machhi- 
paina, as has been explained elsewhere. Mourning for a 
commoner is less prolonged ; the relatives generally go into 
mourning for two or three months, and during this period 
may not wash their bodies and may not put grease on their 
hair. 2 Until the memorial stone has been erected, food must 
be given to the spirit. A small portion of each daily meal 

1 As by, e.g. the Thado, where graves are made on the same plans but 
with the excavation, and therefore also the feet of the dead man, pointing 
northwards, except in the case of bad deaths, perhaps. I do not know on 
which side of the grave the Thados make their excavation in the latter case, 
but apart from orientation the plan is that shown bv Mr. Parrv for Lakher 
Thlachhi. J. H. H. ' 

* Haka Chins mourn in the same way. (?/. Head, op. cit. t p. 26. N. E. P. 


is set aside and placed either near the hearth inside the 
house or else on the grave for the spirit to eat. Plantains, 
sugar-cane, nicotine-water and flour are also placed on the 
grave in case the spirit should have need of them in Athikhi. 
Lakhers worship their ancestors at Laliachhia, but 
these offerings are not at present, at any rate, of a pro- 
pitiatory nature, but merely to meet the needs of the spirit. 
Whether or not they are a relic of ancestor- worship I am not 
prepared to say. As soon as the memorial stone has been 
erected, the offerings cease, as it is believed that after this 
the spirit goes off to Athikhi for good and does not return, and 
so will have no further use for food. 


The ceremonies held in connection with the erection of 
memorials are called Athiteukhei, which means " sitting with 
the dead," the idea being that on this occasion the dead man's 
spirit will visit its home for the last time before going off 
finally to the abode of the dead. There are several kinds of 
memorials. That ordinarily erected is a flat stone called 
longphei, and is always accompanied by a wooden memorial 
post called thangri. For chiefs and important persons 
pyramids called phura pachang and small stone walls called 
longdong are erected as well. If several memorials are 
prepared, they are all erected, or at any rate finished, on the 
day fixed for the Athiteukhei feast. For this all the deceased's 
relations and friends are invited. Mithun or pigs are killed, 
sahma is made, and a feast is prepared. Against the wall 
of the house which faces down the slope a tray is placed, 
covered with every sort of edible and drink ; this is for the 
spirit of the deceased, who is supposed to come and sit with 
his friends and to partake of the good things provided. In 
the course of the day the memorials are finished, and then 
the women all have their feast inside the house and the men 
on the verandah. When the food is all consumed, the men 
join the women inside the house and they drink sahma 
together. In the evening after sunset all the edibles on the 
tray are collected in a small basket and hung on a forked 

iv RELIGION 415 

stick planted on the grave near the thangri ; this is to show 
the final separation of the dead man's spirit from the living. 
The next day the whole village holds an aoh called Via- 
chawpana ; no one may do any work, and the women may 
neither spin nor weave ; it is believed that unless this aoh 
is observed, the dead man's spirit will carry off with it to 
Athikhi the spirits of rice and of all the other kinds of edibles 
and there will be a famine. The aoh need not be held on 
every occasion that a memorial post is erected, but only on 
the occasion of the erection of the first memorial post between 
the harvest and the burning of the new jhums. Memorials 
are erected by the deceased's heir. If the latter is very poor 
and cannot afford to pay for the sacrifice and feast required, 
a little of every kind of available edible is collected in a 
basket and hung up on a forked post over the grave. 

A longphei is a plain flat stone which is laid flat on the top 
of the grave, supported on all four sides by four stones of 
the same length planted on their sides. If at the funeral 
the Rakhatla dance was performed, it is repeated at the 
erection of the longphei, and if the ceremony is being held 
just before the jhums are burnt, it is customary to dance 
the Pakhupila, but not at any other season. On this same 
day the wooden memorial post called thangri is also erected 
over the grave. This post has to be prepared some days 
before the date fixed for its formal erection. A well-grown 
young Ichaimei tree (Schima Wallichii) is cut down, the bark 
is all removed, and it is roughly hewn into shape, so that the 
lower part of the post represents a body which is sur- 
mounted by a head (cf. illustration at page 416). A man's 
thangri has no neck, the body runs straight up to the head ; 
a woman's thangri has a sort of lozenge-shaped neck. The 
difference is clearly shown in the illustration. As soon as 
the post has been shaped, it is carried in procession to the 
dead man's house by the young men, who are accompanied 
by a crowd of boys, playing on drums and gongs. If the 
deceased was a man, his widow meets the procession and 
leads it into the house ; if a woman, this is done by her 
brothers. The post is then carved with a chisel with con- 
ventional ornaments, which vary in the different villages. 




I have seen chevrons, herring-bone patterns, St. Andrew's 
crosses, lozenges and strings of detached circles with a string 
running through them to represent necklaces. The horns 
on the head of a thangri represent hair ; a man's thangri 
has one horn, a woman's two. The bands at the bottom of 
a woman's thangri indicate the metal belts she possessed ; 
if the dead person possessed a pumtek neck- 
lace it is carved round the neck of the thangri. 
If the dead man had a gun, the carvings in- 
clude a small gun. If the man for whom the 
thangri is erected had succeeded in seducing 
another man's wife, a plume of white cock's 
feathers is tied on to his thangri. The thangris 
of chiefs and nobles are adorned with a 
plume of red goat's or horse's hair. On 
thangris erected for young men and girls, 
round pieces of looking-glass or rupees are 
inserted on the neck, and in Savang I have 
seen a brass plate for the spirit to eat off, and 
a bottle of sahma for it to drink, hung round 
a thangri. The carvings are dyed a dark 
colour with a mixture of pig's blood pounded 
with ashes from the leaves of the bahru 
palm (Calamus erectus) or the thiahra palm 
(Borassus flabellifer). If the deceased was 
a great warrior, another post is erected by 
the side of the thangri. This post is about 
3 feet high. Holes are made through the top 
of it, and a peg is inserted through each hole 
for each head taken by the deceased and for 
each slave captured in war. Thus the post for a man who had 
taken four heads and captured five slaves would have nine 
pegs run through the top. These posts are carved in the 
same way as thangri. 

The decorations on the memorial posts all have definite 
names. The drawing above is of a woman's thangri. 
The horns on the top represent the hair, and are called hrong. 
The lozenges on the head are called athei hmong, meaning 
cucumber seeds. The circle hanging round the neck is 



sisari, the pumtek necklace ; the lozenges and triangles of 
the upper part of the body are kei ongpa. The small lozenges 
inside large lozenges are athei hmong (cucumber seeds) ; 
below these come zig-zags (kiameichei), and again lower come 
triangles enhanced by internal repetition, all those on one 
side having the same base, called keiongpa khangpi, and 
last of all bands called 
ahra, to represent a 
woman's belts. The 
decorations vary some- 
what, but the illustra- 
tion gives those most 
commonly found. 

Besides the longphei 
and the thangri there are 
two kinds of memorials 
which are restricted to 
chiefs and wealthy 
nobles ; these are known 

Phura Pachang, a Stone Pyramid in 
Memory of a Chief. 

as phura pachang and longdong. The phura pachang is a 
pyramid of stones some 6 or 7 feet high, which is erected only 
as a memorial to men, and is usually sited just outside the 

village on one of the ap- 
proach roads. The pyra- 
mid is timed to be finished 
on the day fixed for erect- 
ing the thangri and long- 
<phei, the stones being all 
collected beforehand, and 
the family erecting a 
pyramid kill a mithun and 
give a feast. 

A longdong takes the 
form of a square enclosed 
by four stone walls about 
3 feet high, whichis erected 
on a path leading into the village. A passage-way is left, 
through which the path runs. The work is nearly all done 
before the day for the formal erection of the memorial, and 
2 E 

Longdong, Stone Memorial to a 



on the actual day the work is merely finished off. Longdong 
are erected for both men and women, and the completion 
of a longdong is celebrated by the usual feast. 

The Death Due or Ru. 

The origin of the death due is curious. 1 Long ago there 
was no such thing as a death due, and it is all the fault of 
the little slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), who is known to the 
Lakhers as ruleipa, that men are now burdened with a death 
due. 2 Formerly the loris was a man called Ruleipa by the 
Tlongsai and Uli by the Hawthai, who fell violently in 
love and got married, but before he could consummate the 
marriage his wife died. Ruleipa was overcome with grief, 
and being practically out of his mind, insisted on having 
sexual intercourse with his wife's body. Her relations pro- 
tested vehemently, but Ruleipa insisted, and to induce his 
brothers-in-law to agree, he promised to pay them a death 
due or ru. Eventually the dead woman's relations agreed to 
let Ruleipa do what he liked, provided he paid them a ru, and 
left him alone with the body of his wife. Having attained 
his desire, Ruleipa, unmindful of his promise, refused to 
pay the death due. His wife's brothers then got angry and 
took away all his bones, and Ruleipa was turned into a slow 
loris. When he became a slow loris, Ruleipa took an oath 
that any one who saw him in the daytime 3 would surely 
lose his wife in the same way as he had lost his, but that 
any one who saw him in his dreams would be lucky. Ever 
since then all Lakhers have been burdened with the obligation 
of paying the ru or death due. 

Lakhers are very afraid of the loris. It is ana to see a 
loris, as it is believed that any one who does so will die 
prematurely, and that even if the person who sees it escapes 

1 For a less picturesque, but perhaps more probable, explanation of the 
custom, see Notes on the Thadou Kukis, p. 56, n. 2 . This fear of the loris is 
shared by the Thadp, who regard it as the priest of the gibbon. J. H. H. 

2 A somewhat similar story is current among the Haka Chins. Cf. 
W. R. Head, Haka Chin Customs, p. 29. N. E. P. 

3 Cf. Lewin, Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Dwellers Therein, p. 95. His 
" sloth " must be intended to describe the slow loris. J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 419 

his fate, his wife will certainly die in his stead. The only 
thing to be done when a person sees a loris is to endeavour 
to kill it at once. When the loris has been killed it must be 
cut up into little pieces, which are thrown in the direction of 
the different mountains, rivers, and lakes in the neighbour- 
hood which are Khisong or the abode of spirits. It is hoped 
that the leurahripas inhabiting these Khisongs will eat the 
pieces of loris thrown to them, and in gratitude for the meat 
will save the man who saw the loris from the danger hanging 
over his head. Having thrown the pieces of loris to the 
Khisong, the sacrificer must remain in the jungle, and must 
not return home till the stars come out. This is the only 
possible way by which a person who has seen a loris can 
hope to escape, no other sacrifices being of any avail. 

The loris is said to sing at night. If he sings the song 
sung at a wake, one of the persons hearing it or one of their 
relations will die ; if, however, he sings a hunting song, it 
means that the hearers will be lucky at hunting. 

The death due called ru is payable on the death of any 
married person. A man's ru must be paid by his eldest son, 
or, if he has no son, by whoever inherits his property, and 
it is payable to his pupa, who is his mother's brother. A 
woman's ru must be paid by her husband, or if he is dead 
by her younger son, and it is payable to the deceased 
woman's brother. 

Claiming the Ru. 

The person claiming a ru must kill a pig for riha for the 
deceased. Unless a pig is killed, the main price, called rupi, 
cannot be claimed, though the subsidiary prices can be 
claimed even if no pig is killed. If the claimant and the 
deceased belong to the same village, the pig must be killed 
on the day of death or on the day the memorial is erected. 
If the claimant lives in a separate village from deceased, the 
pig for riha may be killed at a later date, but it should be 
killed as soon as possible after the death has taken place. 
The riha pig is given to the deceased's relations, who, in 
their turn, have to kill a pig, which they give to the claimant. 


Once these pigs have been killed the ru must be paid in 
instalments, according to the payer's ability. 

A death due consists of a main price called rupi and of 
the following subsidiary prices : 

Phavaw A pumtek bead. 

Raibong A sahma pot. 

Bongta A small sahma pot. 

Seitla . The payment to be made because a mMun was killed for riha. 

Nowadays mithun are hardly ever killed for riha, but the 

due is still claimed. 
Pangbu A cloth 
Atu . A hoe. 

Thuasang A dao. 

The amount payable as ru varies. In the case of men, the 
amount of the ru depends on two considerations, the first 
being whether the deceased belonged to a high or a low clan, 
and the second whether he was a Nimrod and had succeeded 
in amassing wealth. In some villages more stress is laid 
on the clan, while in others success in the chase and wealth 
are the deciding factor. It is impossible, therefore, to say 
offhand what a given man's ru will be. The amount to be 
paid is discussed among the relatives, and if they cannot 
agree, the chief and elders are called in to settle the question. 
Among the Hawthai both clan and wealth are considered, 
and the ru of any man who had married a woman of the 
royal clan would be high. In Savang a man's clan is dis- 
regarded, and the amount of the ru depends solely on 
wealth and success in the chase. In Chapi noble birth is 
the predominating consideration, the amount of the rupi 
being usually the same as the marriage price angkia of 
deceased's clan. Wealth and success in the chase might, 
however, raise the rupi above the clan angkia. 

In Saiko and Siaha the amount of the ru depends on the 
clan ; a noble's ru is usually 20 rupees, and a commoner's 
10 rupees, but the ru of a man who was rich or a great hunter 
is always higher than the ordinary rate. In Siaha the ru 
is raised if deceased's pupa belongs to a higher clan than 
deceased. In Saiko if a man dies very poor, the rupi, or 
main price, is sometimes not more than one brass pot. A 
woman's ru in all the villages is the same as her marriage 
price angkia, and is not subject to the same fluctuations as 




a man's ru. In certain cases no ru can be claimed. Thus 
no ru is payable on any person who has died sawvaw or 
thichhi, and it is ana to claim it. Again, if when a woman 
dies she has either never had any children or all her children 
have predeceased her, her husband is not liable to pay her 
ru unless he retains her personal effects ; provided that the 
husband returns all his late wife's effects to her brother, the 
latter can claim no ru. If, however, the woman's brother 
says that he would rather be paid the ru than have the 
woman's property returned to him, the husband cannot 
object. The monetary value of the ru of any member of a 
royal house, whether male or female, is 100 rupees. The 
examples of death dues from different villages which follow 
illustrate the variations in the amount of the ru. Most of 
the examples are of actual death dues which have been paid, 
and all of them have been given to me by chiefs and elders 
as the usual ru of persons in similar circumstances in the 
village. It will be noticed that the death due payable on a 
woman is considerably higher than that on a man. 


CJiapaw rupi 
Phavaw I 


Raibong . 

Rs. a. 




43 4 


Rs. a. p. 

Phavaw I 



Raibong . 
Pangbu . 


33 4 




PBICB angkia or 10 RUPEES. 

Chapaw rupi 
Phavaw I 

,, ii 

Raibong . 
Thuasang . 

Rs. a. p. 







29 4 

angkia OF 30 RUPEES. 

Chapaw rupi 
Phavaw I 

,, II 
Raibong . 

Rs. a. p. 






Atu ... 


39 4 



Rs. a. p. 

Chapaw rupi 
Phavaw I 


II . 




Raibong . 




Pangbu . 






v NOBLE OR Phangsang CLAN. 

Rs. a. p. 

Chapaw rupi 
Phavaw I 


II . 




Raibong . 




Pangbu . 





iv RELIGION 423 


Rs. a. p. 

Ctiapaw rupi . . . 10 

Phavaw I . . . 10 

II . . .500 

III . . .100 

Raibong 7 or a small Racha. 

Awruabawna . . . .500 
Pangbu . . . .080 

Thuasang . . . .100 


40 8 


Rs. a. p. 

Chapaw rupi . . . 20 

Phavaw I . . . 10 

II . . .500 

III . . .100 

Raibong 10 

Awruabawna . . . .500 

Pangbu 080 

Thuasang . . . .100 

52 8 


Rs. a. p. 

Chapaw rupi . . . 30 

Awruabawna . . . 10 

Phavaw I . . . 10 

II . . . .700 

III . . .200 

Raibong 500 

Thuasang . . . .100 



Rs. a. p. 

Chapaw rupi . . . 20 

Awruabawna . . . .700 

Phavaw I . . .400 

II . . .200 

III . . .100 

Raibong 200 

Thuasang . . . .100 






Chapaw rupi 
Phavaw I 
Raibong . 

Rs. a. p. 

20 8 

TRICE anglcia OF 40 RUPEES. 

Chapaw rupi 
Phavaw I 



Raibong . 
Pangbu . 

Rs. a. p. 











Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 

Raibong . 

Rs. a. p. 








Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 


Raibong . 

Rs. a. p. 













Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 




Raibong . 



Rs. a. p. 













Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 




Raibong . 



Rs. a. p. 



Chanong rupi 

Phavaw I 
Raibong . 
Pangbu . 

Rs. a. p. 

75 throe gongs of eight, 
seven and six spans 









171 4 





Rs. a. p. 

40 or one gong of eight 

Chanong rupi 
Phavaw T 


Raibong . 




Pangbu . 





80 4 


Rs. a. 


Chanong rupi 


or a gong of 7 spans 

Phavaw I 






Raibong . 




or a dao. 



or a hoe. 

43 4 



angkia OF 10 RUPEES. 

Rs. a. 


Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 






Raibong . 










34 4 





angkia OF 60 RUPEES. 

Rs. a. 


Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 






, iv 









Raibong . 

Rs. a. p. 




Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 

Raibong . 

Rs. a. p. 












Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 

,, IV 


Raibong . 

Rs. a. p. 













Chanong rupi 
Phavaw I 
Raibong . 


Rs. a. p. 













For unmarried persons no ru is payable, but a due called 
chhongchhireu or, in Savang, maichhangna is paid instead. 
In Saiko the due must be paid on the death of all unmarried 
persons except babies, for whom no pig is killed as riha. In 
the other villages it can be claimed only on the death of 
persons who have tied their hair up that is to say, over the 
age of ten or eleven. The due is usually a large earthenware 
beer-pot, called racha, or 10 rupees, but in Siaha it is 20 
rupees. Unlike the ru, this due must be paid to the 
deceased's pupa, whether deceased is a man or a woman, 
and it is paid by the deceased's father or, if the father is 
dead, by the deceased's brother. When demanding this 
due, the person's pupa must kill a pig as riha to speed the 
deceased's soul on its way to Athikhi, or else he forfeits his 
claim. The pig killed is given to deceased's relations for a 
funeral feast on the day the death takes place. In return 
for the pig so killed, deceased's relations kill a fowl and give 
it to his pupa. The pig for riha must be killed on the day 
the death takes place ; it may not be killed later on, and 
unless it is killed on the day of the death the chhongchhireu 
cannot be claimed, except if the pupa belongs to a different 
village, when he can kill the riha pig later on and claim the 
due. No chhongchhireu can be claimed for any person who 
has died thichhi or sauwaw. 

The meaning of chhongchhireu, as explained to me by a 
Lakher, is " family (or clan), left, instead," or the price 
payable on account of a person having left his clan by dying. 
If this meaning is correct, as I believe it is, it points to the 
former existence of a matrilineal system, as the pupa who 
gets the price is not nowadays of the same clan as the 
deceased, but would have been under a matrilineal system. 

There is one more very curious death due called chachhai, 
which can be claimed in all the Tlongsai villages, but not 
among the Zeuhnang, Sabeu or Hawthai groups, among 
whom it has never existed. 

The due can be claimed when a man's sister's husband dies. 
Thus A has married B's sister C. When A dies, B can claim 

iv RELIGION 429 

chachhai from A's heir. The man claiming chachhai must 
kill a pig for riha on the day the death takes place, and not 
at any later time, and then the dead man's heir must pay 
the due, which consists of an earthenware beer-pot called 
racha or 10 rupees. The idea at the back of this due is that 
a man by dying has abandoned his wife, so his heir must 
pay a fine of 10 rupees to the dead man's wife's relations as 
compensation for the deceased's inconsiderate conduct in 
leaving his wife without a protector. 1 

Sacrifices connected with the Crops. 

As Lakhers believe that it is in the power of the spirits 
to give them good or bad crops, it is not surprising to find 
that each phase of agricultural operations is marked by its 
appropriate sacrifice intended to placate the spirits of the 
hills and the fields. The first of these sacrifices is called 
Rialongchhi, and is performed when the jhums have been 
half cut, and by all the villagers together. The object of the 
sacrifice is to prevent the edges of daos and axes getting 
chipped and blunted, and to prevent people from cutting 
themselves by accident when cutting the jhums. During 
the day, the villagers collect the fruit of the dangko tree 
(Spondias magnifera, Willd.). Having eaten the fruit, they 
dry the stones and fix them on to the end of arrows. At 
night a fire is made in the village street and the stones are 
roasted in the fire, and when they are well alight are fired 
off towards the sky from pellet bows by the village children, 
saying " Eialongchhi leu, chaka chhileu " (" Let famine fly 
away as the arrows fly away with the dangko fruit "). The 
next day is aoh for the whole village. The idea is that the 
burning dangko fruit is the colour of blood, and that if this is 
fired off towards the sky, the people will not wound them- 
selves by accident when cutting the jhums and will not 

When the jhums have all been cut, the knee dance called 
Pakhupila is performed, and a joint feast contributed to by 

1 A similar due, called tangten, is payable among the Haka Chins. Cf. 
W. E. Head, Haka Chin Customs, p. 31. N. E. P. 


all the villagers is held. This feast is called Khutla, and 
resembles the Lushei Chapchar JKut, and is the only public 
merry-making indulged in by the Lakhers, who do not have 
numerous public feasts, like the Lusheis. It is not held 
every year, but only when the village has had very good 
crops. It is a sort of harvest thanksgiving. The house of 
some rich man is selected for the feast, and every one goes 
there, taking a pot of beer as his contribution. Oceans of 
beer are drunk, pigs and fowls are killed, and the young men 
and girls dance a round dance called Pakhupila in the village 
street. The men stand in a ring, with a girl between each 
of them, put their arms round the girls' shoulders, and then 
dance round in a ring and sing and beat drums and gongs, 
while one man stands in the middle and beats a gong and 
conducts the dance and the singing. The duration of the 
feast depends on the number of men prepared to provide 
free drinks. The dancers go all round the village and dance 
and sing outside the rich men's houses in turn, the onlookers 
going with them. They remain at one house till they have 
imbibed all the beer, and then go on to the next, so the 
dancing may go on for some days. The feast is held before 
the sowing of the rice, and the idea is that as all will have 
to labour hard in the fields from now on, they should enjoy 
themselves first. Everybody in the village is supposed to 
be present at this feast. It is ana to dance the Pakhupila 
and to sing the Pakhupi song at any other season. Persons 
disregarding this prohibition suffer severely from car- 
buncles. After this feast the jhums are burnt, and then a 
sacrifice called Leuhrangna is performed. 


Leuhrangna is a yearly sacrifice offered jointly by groups 
of people who have their jhums on the same slope to induce 
the spirit of the slope to give them good crops and good 
health, to prevent wild animals from eating the crops and to 
enable the sacrificers to be successful in hunting. A man 
who is sacrificially pure is selected to perform the sacrifice, 
which is held under a tree on the edge of the jhums. Below 

iv RELIGION 431 

the tree two stones are placed, one erect and the other on the 
ground, for laying out the phavaw. The sacrifice consists 
of a sow of three fists and a red cock, or a boar of three fists 
and a hen. As soon as the pig has been killed, its ears, its 
tongue, its tail, one toe and its penis are laid on the stone, 
with flour, as phavaw. The cock is then killed, and its tongue 
and two long tail feathers, one foot and some blood are 
added to the phavaw. The pig's head and a little meat are 
cooked in one pot, and the rest of the meat in another. The 
right foreleg is set aside raw for the sacrificer to take home 
with him. The fowl is cooked separately by the sacrificer. 
Some pig's liver, intestine, meat and gravy are laid with the 
phavaw, together with salt and cooked rice, as are also the 
fowl's liver and the comb. The sacrificer then eats the 
meat from the pig's head, and the whole of the fowl and the 
villagers eat the rest of the pig. 

The day of the sacrifice is pana and the next day is aoh. 
During the aoh it is ana to visit the place of sacrifice, and 
any one doing so is fined a fowl. The sacrificer is pana ; 
he may not leave his house, and it is ana to visit his house, 
and a breach of the prohibition is punished with the fine 
of a fowl. After the aoh the sacrificer sows a little paddy 
in his garden, and until this seed has germinated he may 
not eat any of the flesh of an animal killed by a wild animal, 
may not go to a house where a death has taken place, nor 
attend a wake, nor go near a river. If he does not observe 
these prohibitions it is ana for all the participants in the 
sacrifice, and their crops will fail. The paddy is sown simply 
to indicate the period within which the sacrificer must observe 
the prohibitions. If the sacrifice is performed on the same 
day as the jhums are burnt, it is not necessary for the 
sacrificer to sow any paddy in his garden, as the fire from 
the jhums is believed to have destroyed all evil influences, 
so that there is nothing ana to fear, and the sacrificer need 
not observe any prohibitions. 

During the aoh strangers may enter the village, provided 
that only part of the inhabitants have performed the sacrifice. 
If the whole village has done the sacrifice, however, it is ana 
for strangers to enter. 



To ensure that the paddy shall germinate well, a sacrifice 
called Sachipachhua is performed in all the villages. As 
soon as all the paddy has been sown, a few seeds of every 
kind of crop are collected by each cultivator on the place 
selected for the performance of the Chithla sacrifice. A 
black hen is sacrificed by the owner of the field, and the seeds 
arc anointed with its blood and then sown near the place 
of sacrifice. The sacrifice is to the spirit of the field, and the 
usual phavaw are set aside for him. A black pullet is 
sacrificed in the hope that the young paddy may come up 
with a rich dark colour like the pullet's. The sacrificer's 
household is pana for the day of sacrifice. In Chapi this 
sacrifice is performed before the paddy is sown. 


The next sacrifice is called Chithla, and must be per- 
formed between the sowing of the seed and the second 
weeding, called leuchapa. It is intended to make the 
sacrificer and his family healthy, to ensure good crops and to 
prevent them from being eaten by wild animals ; it is offered 
to the spirit of the field, and is performed in front of the 
jhum houses. In Savang Chithla is done by the whole 
village at one time immediately after Tleulia, in the other 
villages each householder does it whenever it suits him best. 
A fowl must be offered for the sacrifice, and a pig, a dog, or 
a goat may be added if desired. A bamboo or a wooden post 
is erected in front of the jhum house, and on it are hung a 
hen's basket, and, if a pig is to be killed as well, a pig's 
basket also. No baskets are hung up for dogs or goats, as 
they are never carried about in baskets. 

A flat stone is placed in front of this post to receive the 
phavaw, and near by a hollow bamboo is planted in the 
ground and filled with water to which a little rice is added. 
This bamboo is meant to resemble a beer-pot, and a bamboo 
tube for sucking beer through is also put into it. Leaves are 
then laid on the flat stone, and some flour is placed on the 
leaves, and on the top of this the animal is slaughtered. 

iv RELIGION 433 

If only a fowl has been sacrificed, its liver is cooked in a 
small pot and placed on the stone as phavaw with the usual 
raw phavaw ; the rest of the fowl is taken back to the 
village and cooked at home. If a pig has been killed, the 
usual raw phavaw are set aside and the head and half of the 
entrails are cooked. The portions of the entrails required 
for cooked phavaw are placed on the stone, and the meat 
from the head is eaten by the sacrificer and his family, the 
rest of the meat being taken back to the village for con- 
sumption at home. The pig's skull is tied up on the post 
at the place of sacrifice. The day of the sacrifice is pana, 
the next day aoh, and the clay after is also aoh and is known 
as Lomang. On the first two days no work at all may be 
done. On the third day the people may go to the fields, 
but may not weed them, and the women must not weave, 
but may carry wood. In most villages people are allowed 
to enter the sacrificer's house during the aoh. 

On the same day that Chithla is performed another 
sacrifice called Leupapa is also held. A post and a stone 
for the phavaw are erected on the edge of the field, and a 
white cock is sacrificed over the stone ; its raw phavaw only 
are laid on the stone, as animals never eat cooked food, and 
the rest of the bird is taken home to cook. This sacrifice is 
to the spirit who dwells on the borders of the field and the 
forest and who can stop wild animals from entering the 
fields to eat the crop if he is successfully propitiated. 

Before the Chithla sacrifice has been performed it is ana 
for any one when cooking vegetables in a jhum house to 
throw any salt or the remains of rice which has been cooked 
at home and brought down to the jhum to eat into the pot 
in which the vegetables are being cooked. When the 
vegetables have been put into a saucer, salt and the remains 
of rice may be added. If a stranger puts salt or dry rice 
into the vegetable pot in any one's jhum house he is fined 
a fowl. Salt when boiled in water liquefies and disappears, 
and the Lakhers believe that if it is boiled in water in a 
jhum house, the growing paddy may disappear in the same 
way. The lochhangpa, or remains of lacho (cold cooked rice), 
is dry, and if it is added to the vegetables it is thought that 


the crops will dry up like lacho. One of the reasons for 
performing the Chithla sacrifice is to make the use of salt 
when cooking in a jhum house permissible. 


In Chapi village, to celebrate the gathering in of the maize 
crop a dance called Pazutawla is performed. The men hold 
hands and form a ring ; the girls stand in front of them ; 
one girl stands between two men, and puts an arm round 
the shoulders of the men on each side of her. They dance 
round and round, singing to the accompaniment of gongs 
and drums. This dance is peculiar to Chapi. It is ana to 
dance it except in celebration of the maize harvest, and were 
it performed at any other time those taking part would 
suffer from carbuncles. 


The Chapi people concentrate their crop sacrifices, instead 
of holding them at different stages during the growth of the 
crop, like the other villages. After the first weeding of the 
fields a red hen is killed for Chitang outside the village by a 
man selected for the purpose, who must be ceremonially pure. 


The next day the whole village is aoh, and the day after 
each household performs the Chitla sacrifice in its own field. 
After this the Chhomei sacrifice takes place. The man who 
killed the red hen for Chitang offers up a boar at the spot 
outside the village where the hen was killed ; Phavaw are 
set aside and a little of the liver, the stomach, and the meat 
is eaten on the place of sacrifice. The rest is taken raw to 
the village. The chief gets a hind-leg and half the buttocks, 
the second chief a fore-leg and the meat between the 
shoulders, and the man who is to provide next year's pig 
gets a hind-leg. The rest of the meat is cut into little 
pieces, and every one in the village gets a piece, which is 
cooked and eaten with rice, no matter how small it may be. 

iv RELIGION 435 

The same evening every householder in the village kills a 
chicken, which must be killed by a man, and is offered for the 
well-being of the individual household. During the month 
in which Chitang and Chhomei are performed no stranger 
may enter the village, so for the general convenience these 
sacrifices are held when the moon is waning. They must be 
performed once a year, and are intended to ensure good crops, 
good health and good hunting, and until they have been 
completed no one goes to live in his field house. The next 
day is aoh ; the day after the aoh Chakalai is performed, 
burning brands being flung out of the house to frighten the 
spirit of famine. The next day Sahrisa is performed, and 
after that Tlaraipasi, for which a dog, and not a hoolock, 
is used. By concentrating the sacrifices in this way, a 
certain number of working days are saved, which otherwise 
would be taken up by aohs. 

In Savang a village sacrifice called Chitang takes place 
at the same time as the Chithla that is, as soon as the first 
weeding has been finished. The ileuliabopa prepares sdhma 
for the chief and elders, and as soon as it is ready, the Chitang 
day is fixed. In the morning the tleuliabopa kills a sow and 
a red cock on the tleulia ground. If for any reason a sow 
is not available, a red hen only is sacrificed. As soon as the 
sow has been killed a representative of each house in the 
village collects a little of the blood in a bamboo cup, takes 
it straight off to his field, and smears it on some of the 
paddy, maize and each kind of vegetable grown in the field. 
Having done this, each household does Chithla in its own 
field. The Chitang pig is cooked in the tleuliabopa' s house, 
and is eaten by the chief and elders and the young men who 
prepared and cooked it. The usual phavaw are laid out on 
the place of sacrifice and the pig's skull is hung up above it. 
The next day the whole village is aoh. The sacrifice is for 
good health and prosperity. Chhomei is not performed in 


Among the Tlongsai and Hawthai some time after Chithla, 
usually in the month of August, a sacrifice called Sahrisa is 


performed to make the paddy healthy. A dog and a cock 
are sacrificed outside the village. Each householder takes 
some of the dog's blood and two of the fowl's feathers off to 
his field, and smears the dog's blood with the feathers over 
some of the paddy-stalks. Having done this, he returns 
home, and remains indoors for the rest of the day. The 
dog and the fowl are paid for by village subscription. 


In all the villages at the beginning of the harvest, after 
all the paddy plants have been pulled up and before the 
grain has been gathered in, a sacrifice called Leuhmathawna 
is performed. A flat place is cleared near the jhum house 
and a mat threshing-floor is constructed, at one corner of 
which a bamboo or wooden post is erected. At the foot of 
this a small basket is placed containing seeds of paddy, 
millet, maize and, in fact, of every kind of vegetable that is 
grown in the jhums, and some flour. A red hen is sacrificed, 
and the seeds are anointed with the hen's blood. Before 
the hen is killed the sacrificer intones the following chant : 

" Leu li sa a vaw dila 
Leu lu sa a vaw dila 
Ngapei kia ta kia la 
Ngalang kia ta kia la 

A sen tlang la 

A za tlang Za." 

" Oh, paddy, from the bottom of the field como. 
Oh, paddy, from the top of the field come. 
Swarm together like the nghapei, 1 
Swarm together like the nghalang 
Fill ten baskets full 
Fill a hundred baskets full." 

At the end of the chant the sacrificer blows three piercing 
blasts on a bamboo whistle, to call the spirit of paddy, and 
kills the fowl. The usual phavaw are placed in the baskets 
with the seeds. In Siaha the phavaw are placed in a corner 
of the threshing-floor. If a dog eats the phavaw, he is 

1 The nghalang and ngapei are two kinds of small fish that go about in 
large shoals. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 437 

killed, and his intestines are pulled out to release the spirit 
of the paddy which has been eaten with the phavaw. 

The sacrificer and his family then go into the field and 
start gathering in the paddy ; as soon as they have collected 
one or at most two baskets, they come back to the threshing- 
floor to rest, and cook and eat the chicken on the threshing- 
floor, and place the cooked phavaw in the basket with the 
raw phavaw. The chicken's bones are placed in the basket 
containing the paddy, and the basket is then tied to the 
post in the corner of the threshing-floor. 

Next morning the people continue to bring in their paddy. 
If there is a good crop, no further sacrifice is required. If, 
however, the crop is poor, they say, " We have gathered 
paddy from a large area and have collected very little grain. 
The grain is getting lost ; we will perform another sacrifice." 
Another red hen or a mole is then sacrificed in the same 
place as before. After this sacrifice they rest for two or 
three days, and then gather the rest of the crop. During 
the days when harvesting is in progress it is ana to eat any 
bird or rat. If this were done the spirit of the bird or rat 
would eat the paddy. The reason why some people sacrifice 
a mole in preference to a brown hen is that the mole, as it 
excavates its tunnels through the earth, throws out a lot of 
soil, and they hope that, their paddy may be as plentiful as 
the soil excavated by the mole. It is ana for a stranger to 
enter the house or the jhum of a man who is gathering in 
his rice crop, and it is also ana to give a stranger cooked rice 
to take with him on a journey, as the Lakhers believe that 
if they give away rice during the harvest the paddy will 
vanish like the rice, and the crop will be bad. If a piece 
of cloth or any feathers get burnt in the jhum house while 
the paddy is being brought to the threshing-floor it is ana, 
and a fowl must be sacrificed to appease the spirit of the 
paddy, which cannot bear the smell of burnt clothes and 

In Chapi, wild pig, monkeys and fish may not be eaten, 
the first two lest their spirits should eat the paddy, the fish 
because a great deal of rice must be eaten with fish, and 
if fish and rice are eaten during the harvest, the crop will be 


reduced in the same way as the stored rice is reduced when 
fish is eaten. 

When all the grain has been collected on the threshing- 
ground, a granary is built, and as soon as all the grain has 
been stored, a sacrifice called Sikisa is performed. Each 
householder must kill a white fowl or a dog or both in front 
of the jhum house in his field in the morning. The raw 
phavaw are laid on the place of sacrifice, and then the 
family go off home and take the animal killed with them and 
eat it in their house. 

On the way home to the village the owner of the field 
blows on a bamboo whistle and calls out at each turn on the 
path from which his field is visible, " Oh, souls of all members 
of my family, do not remain in the fields, but follow me. 
In the field there remain evil smells of dung and wind ; 
hurry after us." The Lakhers fear that their souls may 
remain in the fields where they have been busy for so long, 
and that in consequence they themselves may fall ill. The 
next day the family is aoh no member of it may leave the 
village nor do any work. Sikisa marks the end of the 


In Savang as soon as the last household to store its paddy 
in the granary has performed Sikisa, a feast called Pazusata 
is held, in which the chief part is played by the village 
children, who on this occasion are allowed to do and say 
anything they like without let or hindrance. Pazusata has 
some of the elements of a saturnalia ; it marks the end of 
the year, and its celebration is believed to have the effect 
of causing the paddy to last throughout the new year and 
of enabling the people to shoot much game. The feast 
starts on the evening that the Sikisa aoh of the last family 
to fill their granary is completed. This evening is called 
Loluta. The chief and elders take their seats on the tleulia 
ground, and drink beer with any other villagers they may 
invite. Word is sent to the man who was selected the last 
time the feast was held, to kill the fowl for the current year's 
sacrifice, and he sacrifices a hen. When the hen is cooked, 

iv RELIGION 439 

one of the elders brings it with some cooked rice to the 
tleulia ground. The tleuliabopa sets aside the fowl's liver 
with a little rice as phavaw on the spot where the tleulia 
sacrifice is performed, and gives the rest of the fowl to the 
man chosen to provide the fowl for the next year's sacrifice. 
The next day is called Lolupi. No sacrifice is made, but a 
large pot of beer is placed on the tleulia ground, and the chief 
and his elders and all the older men of the village gather 
round it and suck up the beer through small bamboo reeds. 
Before any one else drinks any beer a cup is poured out and 
given to the man selected to provide the beer for next 
year's gathering, and after this has been drunk the elders 
settle down steadily to the business of the day. Meanwhile 
the chief and elders have sent round to every house in the 
village calling for contributions of as much barking deer and 
porcupine meat as they can obtain, to make a feast for the 
village children. The meat is cooked and served up with 
rice. Half of it is given to the village boys, and half to one 
of the most prominent hunters in the village, who is thereby 
bound to provide a liberal contribution for next year's feast. 
Throughout the year any one killing a porcupine or a barking 
deer sets aside a little of the dried meat to give to the boys 
for Pazusata. The boys all sit down and have their feast 
on the tleulia ground. The meat of the barking deer and 
the porcupine are chosen for this feast as they are regarded 
as particularly clean animals. The barking deer is always 
called " the weeder of the jhums," probably owing to its 
behaviour in the story of the barking deer and the porcupine, 
and so is likely to have a good effect on the crops. The 
porcupine is also a propitious animal for the crops, as when 
he burrows into the earth he throws up large masses of soil 
like a mole, and this is believed to induce a big crop. When 
the boys have finished their feast they go off to the square 
in front of the chief's house and light a fire in the middle ; 
they then tie their cloths crosswise over their shoulders, 
hold hands, form a ring and dance twenty times round the 
fire. This dance is performed first squatting on the haunches 
like the Chapi Dawlakia. A drummer sits in the middle by 
the fire and beats time, and as they dance round the fire the 


boys sing, " Pazusata aulesa masa Aulemanong alema, taku 
taku," which means, " Come, all you wild animals, and 
Aulemanong will eat you." Aulemanong was the wife of 
an old-time tleuliapoba, during whose incumbency they were 
very successful in the chase. Next the boys dance round the 
fire standing up, and sing another song : 

" Ke chhu chhupa, Jce lia liapa haw e ve 
Vaw sala daw pi nang di a aw." 

This last verse is in the old-fashioned tongue, and the 
Savang people themselves could not explain it. 

When the dance has ended, the boys fetch torches, go 
round to every house in the village and demand meat, rice 
or any other kind of food. People may not refuse to give ; 
if they do, the boys break into the house, seize everything 
they can lay their hands on, and the householder has no 
remedy, as on this night the boys are given complete license. 
When any housewife gives them a large amount of food or 
some specially tasty bits they shout out something like this, 
" Chhali's mother has been most generous, and has given 
us excellent food/' but if any housewife makes them a poor 
present they shout out, " Zahia's mother is the stingiest 
woman in the village : she has only given us some old dried 
rice," and so put her to shame. On this night nothing is 
ana to the boys, and even though people have performed a 
sacrifice and have erected bamboos in front of their house 
to show that they are pana, the boys break their way into 
the house, climb up on the shelves over the hearth where 
the food is stored, and take away anything they can find. 
Having collected all the food they can, the boys divide it 
up and take it off home, and having put it away, they come 
back to the square near the chief's house in the middle of 
the village, and call out praises of the generous givers, and 
pour abuse on all who have been stingy, mentioning them 
all by name. After this the elder boys tell obscene stories, 
and give the younger boys details of their love affairs and 
of the girls with whom they have been successful, and make 
the young boys proclaim all these adventures aloud. No one 
is spared : young men and girls who have been caught 

iv RELIGION 441 

philandering, bucks who run round breaking up happy homes, 
staid married men who have been caught tripping with frail 
beauties, mothers of families who have yielded to the too- 
ardent wooing of some handsome young blood all find their 
little failings ruthlessly proclaimed aloud for all and sundry 
to hear, but they can get no redress, and must grin cheerfully 
and treat the matter as a bad joke. This custom must have 
a most salutary effect on the morals of the village, restraining 
all save the most ardent, and inculcating the greatest 
discretion on all desirous of emulating Don Juan or Ninon 
de 1'Enclos. Only verbal licence is allowed : the feast is 
not an occasion for free love, and sexual offences committed 
at Pazusata are subject to the same pains and penalties as at 
at any other time. 

Next morning the boys have a feast off their spoils of the 
night before, and invite their friends to share it. The 
drinking bout on the tleulia ground is not continued, but the 
boys' feast may last two or three days, according to the 
amount of food they have managed to collect. There is no 
regular aoh, but until the boys have finished feasting only 
the old rice may be given to a stranger who passes through 
the village on a journey. It is ana to give any of the new 
rice to a stranger until the feast is over, as if this is done the 
spirit of the paddy will go with it to the traveller's village, 
and the rice will not last out the year. 


In Chapi the Pazusata ceremony is not performed. The 
end of the year, however, is marked by a feast called 
Khanghnakia, which is really a sacrifice to the different 
Khisongs in the neighbourhood of the village, in the hope 
that they will grant the village general prosperity. On the 
day fixed a fence is erected outside the village. In the even- 
ing the tleuliabopa proceeds to the tleulia ground with a fowl 
in his hand. A small gong called ladaw and a drum are 
hung up in the tleulia tree, and all the boys are collected, 
and a ceremony called Ezaw is performed. Each boy 
carries two pieces of firewood. The tleuliabopa stands holding 


his hen in the middle of the tleulia ground, and the boys file 
round him three times, beating their pieces of firewood 
together and singing, " Cha cha ezaw ezaw sasu bokhai 
bokhai " (" Give us occasionally some pairs of fine heads "), 
accompanied by an obligate on drums and gongs. When the 
boys have marched round him thrice, the tleuliabopa puts 
himself at the head of the line, and, followed by the boys 
playing gongs and drums, proceeds to the fence erected 
outside the village, and there offers up a prayer, calling upon 
the wild animals to come to Chapi from the north, south, 
east and west. While the tleuliabopa is praying, the boys 
again file round him three times. Having finished his prayer, 
the tleuliabopa plucks some feathers from the hen and places 
them on a stone at the foot of the fence. The procession is 
re-formed and, headed by the tleuliabopa, still carrying his 
hen, returns to the tleulia ground, where the tleuliabopa sits 
down and the boys again march round him three times. As 
soon as the boys have completed the third time round, the 
tleuliabopa kills the hen and all the boys go off home. The 
tleuliabopa remains with one young man, who has been 
chosen for the purpose. They cook the hen ; a small piece 
of the liver, intestine and comb are placed at the foot of the 
tleulia tree as phavaw, the head and one leg of the hen are 
given to the elder who will have to provide a hen for the next 
year's ceremony, and the rest of the hen is eaten by the 
tleuliabopa and his companion, who then go to the tleuliabopa 9 s 
house to spend the night. Next morning these two, each 
carrying a red cock, go and wait at the fence outside the 
village, where they are joined by the villagers with all the 
guns they can collect. The men with guns set off to shoot, 
and those without guns to trap, any birds or animals they can 
lay their hands on. The tleuliabopa and his companion 
follow the villagers to the jungle, and, having found a suit- 
able spot, erect a shelter, and, calling upon all the neigh- 
bouring Khisongs by name to send them stags with fine 
heads, boars with heavy tushes, bears, tigers and all kinds of 
wild beasts, sacrifice the two red cocks. The sportsmen then 
scatter through the jungle and try their hardest to shoot 
some game, if necessary camping out in the jungle for two 

iv RELIGION 443 

nights, but not more. As soon as any one has shot an animal, 
a message is sent to the village, and those who remained 
behind spread mats on the tleulia ground and pass the time 
drinking beer and playing on gongs and drums till the success- 
ful hunter arrives. When they reach the entrance to the 
village, the hunters sing hunting songs and fire off guns. The 
man who shot the game, the two men who sacrificed the red 
cocks, and the people carrying the meat proceed to the tleulia 
ground, and the womenkind of the successful hunter, all 
dressed in their best, come to meet him, and he gives his 
wife and each of his sisters arid nieces a small share of the 
meat. The head of the animal is carried in by one of the 
young men, preferably the brother or some close relation of 
the man who shot it. A procession is formed, and, followed 
by the man who shot the animal, dressed in his finest cloths 
and carrying his gun in his right hand and a cup of beer in 
his left, and also by a crowd of women and children of his 
clan, those who have received a share of the meat carrying 
the meat, and the rest beating gongs and drums, the head 
bearer leads them all three times in a dance round the tleulia 
ground, and then he places the head at the foot of the tleulia 
tree. After a short interval the head is again carried round 
the tleulia ground, the procession dancing round three times 
as before, and then the owner of the head takes it off to his 
house and performs the Salupakia sacrifice over it and holds 
a drinking bout, at which songs are sung by the young men 
and girls. Every house in the village gets a small share of 
meat, and has a feast, and all the villagers present their 
relations and friends with plates of rice and meat. Every 
household, however poor, must hold some sort of a feast ; 
it is a great disgrace to have no feast. 

The next day is Chheupana, and the whole village is strictly 
aoh, neither men nor women doing any work. The day 
after this aoh the main Khanghnakia ceremony begins. The 
men divide themselves into groups by clans ; a clan group 
of six takes one pig and one pot of beer ; a clan group of ten, 
two pigs and two pots of beer ; a clan group of fifteen, three 
pigs and three pots of beer. Each clan group goes separately 
outside the village to some place near the stream and selects 


one or more of its number, according to the number of the 
pigs, to perform the sacrifice. The sacrificers place a flat 
stone at the foot of a tree, cover it with flour, and then each 
slays his pig. Some meat, the pig's bladder, and penis are 
placed on the stone as phavaw. The pig's head is then cooked 
with some meat, and some of its heart, stomach, and liver 
and a little of the meat are set aside on the stone as 
phavaw. Some young men are then sent home from each 
group to fetch cooked rice and beer, and each clan eats the 
rice and cooked meat on the place where the sacrifice was 
made. Only men partake of this food ; it is ana for any 
woman to attend, for fear lest any of them may be unclean 
and displeasing to the spirits of the hills, rivers and woods. 
The meal being finished, the rest of the raw meat is divided 
up. The man who has to provide salt for next year's feast 
is given the lower half of the neck, and at the same time this 
man is given a bamboo to measure the amount of salt he 
will have to provide. This is never less than a seer, and the 
bamboo is cut so as to hold the amount required. One 
front leg is then split from the shoulder to the foot, and half 
is given to whoever is to provide beer for the next year's 
feast. After these dues have been distributed, the rest of 
the meat is divided equally among the other members of 
the group. The pigs' skulls having been tied on to the trees 
beneath which they were sacrificed, the whole party goes 
home. The next day is aoh, no work is done, and the women 
may neither spin nor weave. The aoh is very strict. No 
music whatever is allowed, and the people remain quietly in 
their houses drinking. In the evening the people who 
received shares of pork give a feast to their relations and 
friends. On the day of this aoh it is ana for any stranger 
to enter the village. An exception is made in the case of 
Vahu, chief of Ngiaphhia, and Vasai, chief of Khihlong, who 
are Changzas and of the same clan as the chief of Chapi. 
The next day is again aoh, and is known as Phaphopana. 
A bow and arrow are made. The arrow is tipped with 
cotton, and is set up by the tleuliabopa on the fence erected 
outside the village. This is to show the spirits of the moun- 
tains, the woods and the river that some game has been shot. 

iv RELIGION 445 

Phaphopana is observed only if a wild animal has been killed 
on the days preceding the main Khanghnakia, and its object 
is to show that the hunting days were fruitful. Khanghnakia, 
however, is observed yearly as described, whether or not any 
game has been shot on the preliminary days. The above 
description of Khanghnakia was given me by Rachi, chief of 


This is a village sacrifice performed by the Lakhers about 
the month of October to the spirits of their ancestors to 
induce them to help to make the crops good, the domestic 
animals healthy and fertile, and to give good hunting. The 
sacrifice is also intended to please the spirits of paddy and 
maize, and to prevent them from leaving the village. 1 The 
first thing is to make a broad road in front of the village. 
When this is finished, the villagers march up and down it, 
beating gongs and drums. After a bit they march into the 
village and go to the house of the man who has been pre- 
viously selected to perform the sacrifice. He provides sahma 
for all who come to his house, and after sunset, when every 
one has gone home, he sacrifices a red hen inside his house at 
the foot of the main post at the back of the house, where they 
have already placed handf uls of the seed of every kind of food 
crop. The seeds are anointed with the fowl's blood. The 
fowl is cooked, its phavaw are placed at the foot of the 
post, and the sacrificer eats the meat. The village is pana 
for the day of the sacrifice, and the next day is aoh, and is 
spent in drinking beer. It is ana for a stranger to enter the 
sacrificer's house and also for the sacrificer to leave it during 
the aoh. The Chapi people have a variation of this sacrifice 
which shows the connection with ancestor-worship much 
more clearly than the sacrifices in the other villages. A road 
is made, and they march up and down it, beating drums and 
gongs. They then visit the graves of all people who have 

1 Judging by the analogy of Naga tribes, one may expect that the 
connection between the souls of the ancestors and the spirits or, at any 
rate, the productivity of the crop, is very intimate indeed. In most Naga 
tribes the ancestral souls are regarded as directly responsible for the crops 
if, indeed, they are not actually immanent in the grain itself. J. H. H. 


died within the last three years, and place handfuls of every 
kind of food and flour on the graves for the spirits of the dead 
to eat, and tidy up the graves and their surroundings. This 
day is pana. The next day is also pana, and a hen is 
sacrificed on the tleulia ground for the benefit of the crops. 
The next day is Viachaw aoh, no work is done, and the women 
must neither spin nor weave. The idea of this Viachaw aoh 
is to prevent the crops from drying up in the same way as 
the flour placed on the graves. This is one of the few 
occasions on which the Lakhers sacrifice to their ancestors, 
the ceremony in all the villages being undoubtedly a relic 
of ancestor-worship. The road is made for the spirits of 
the dead to come along, and the procession with gongs and 
drums goes to meet the spirits and to escort them to the 
house where the sacrifice takes place. Offerings are placed 
on the graves, not merely of the newly dead, but of all who 
have died within three years, by which time all well-behaved 
spirits should be safely in Athikhi, so the offerings can be due 
only to a lingering belief in the immortality of the spirit 
and in the power of the spirits of the dead to influence the 
living. The same thing is seen in the belief that childless- 
ness may be due to the displeasure 01 the spirits of a man's or 
a woman's dead parents. 

The Lushei Mimkut, 1 a feast in honour of all who have 
died in the past year, is somewhat similar to Laliachhia. 
Both ceremonies can be compared to the celebration of All 
Saints' Day in Continental countries, where it is the custom 
to visit the graves of dead relations. 

Sacrifices are performed not only to ensure the safety of 
the crops at all the different stages of growth from the 
beginning of the cutting of the jhums to the end of the 
harvest ; but even after the grain has been stored in the 
granary and is, as one would imagine, comparatively safe, 
sacrifices must be made to ensure that it shall not waste 
away of its own accord. Both paddy and maize have spirits, 
and these spirits must be propitiated, or the paddy will 
mysteriously decrease. 

1 C/. Shakespear, The Luahei-Kuki Clans, p. 223, and Parry, A Mono- 
graph on Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, p. 91. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 447 

Sawva Awhthi. 

Sawva Awhthi is a sacrifice to eke out the paddy. After 
the paddy has all been stored in the granary, a pig or a red 
hen is sacrificed in the granary. Before killing the animal 
the sacrificer invokes the spirit of paddy in the following 
terms : 

" A . . . Sazia nong eu tleula ihawla, awh sai pi tana, sawva 

awh ei cha thih. Sazia nong eu tleula tliawla, 
Chani thai sala, cha baw thai sala, 
Kongnong na pazola chhianong na pazola, 
ei ni tleula eibaw tleula 
na tha Mala nazong thla la, 
tleula thawla Sazianong eu" 

" O paddy, I sacrifice a fowl to you, increase and endure ; if 
you endure and increase I will eat you. Remain with me from 
year to year, from winter to winter. Endure and increase, so 
that I may eat you, O paddy." 

The paddy is sprinkled with the fowl's blood, and the fowl's 
tongue and some flour are placed on the paddy as phavaw. 
The fowl's feathers are stuck in the wall. The fowl is then 
taken home and eaten, and the door of the granary is left 
open till the end of the aoh, to enable the paddy spirit to 
enter again if it has been away on a visit. The Lakher idea 
is that paddy is able to increase or decrease of its own 
volition, and this sacrifice is to propitiate the spirit of the 
paddy and induce it to last a long time. If a pig is sacrificed, 
the sacrificer and his family are pana for one day and aoh 
for the next day. On the aoh day the sacrificer may not 
leave his house, and no one may enter it ; the family, 
however, may go out. If a fowl is offered it must be 
sacrificed by a woman, and all people who partake of the 
meat are pana for a day ; the woman who performed the 
sacrifice is aoh the next day and may not leave her house. 
The Lakhers believe that if the sacrifice is not performed, 
the paddy will be attacked by weevils. After the aoh has 
finished, the sacrificer must go and close the granary door. 

Bei Pariawthi. 

Even after some of the paddy has been husked and stored 
in the house for daily use, the store is liable to decrease with- 


out apparent reason unless due precautions are taken, and 
a sacrifice called Bei Pariawthi is performed to help to make 
it last. A red pullet is killed close to the pot which holds 
the household store of rice. The rice is sprinkled with its 
blood, and its tongue and some pebbles are placed in the pot 
with the rice. Pebbles are very hard and strong, and the 
idea is that their presence in the rice jar will help to keep 
the rice hard and strong also. The sacrificer and his family 
eat the fowl, and are pana for the day of the sacrifice, which 
is performed in the evening to minimise the duration of the 
pana. It is ana for a stranger to enter the sacrificer's house 
on that day, and ana for the sacrificer to give rice to a 
traveller or to lend any of his possessions, lest the soul of the 
rice should leave his house with them. 


There are many incidents which are believed to have an 
effect on the crops. When the first bear is shot or trapped 
after the sowing of the paddy the whole village must be 
pana for a day, and no one may go to the fields, and the 
women must neither spin nor weave. This pana is called 
Vebawngpana, and its origin is interesting. Once upon a time 
a she-bear found a baby boy in the jungle. She suckled him 
and brought him up. When the boy had become a man, 
the bear said to him that he must shoot her, and that she 
would then run about among the vegetables growing in the 
field and scatter her blood on the crops ; her blood would 
turn into paddy, which would make her foster-child and 
his descendants prosperous and ensure them a good supply 
of food for evermore. The bear at the same time warned 
her foster-child that after she was dead he must on no account 
look upon her face, as if he did so whenever a bear attacked 
a man it would in future first claw his face before biting 
any part of his body, and told him that he must follow her 
injunction strictly, or he would surely bring this misfortune 
on all future generations. According to the bear's instruc- 
tions, the man shot her, and the wounded bear ran among 
the crops, scattering her blood, and her blood turned into 
paddy, as she said it would. As soon as the bear had died, 

iv RELIGION 449 

however, the man forgot the warning that had been given to 
him, and went and looked at her face, and ever since then 
bears have always attacked men in the face. Lusheis have 
a different explanation for the bear's propensity to attack in 
the face. They say that there was once a woman who was 
really a bear. Her husband divorced her, and married 
another wife the same day. The bear woman was so 
jealous of her supplanter that ever since then her descendants 
have attacked men in the face. The Vebawngpana is held 
every year as soon as the first bear has been killed after the 
sowing of the paddy, in memory of the bear who first gave 
paddy to men, and the pana is believed to please the spirit 
of the paddy, which knows that it originated from the blood 
of a bear, and so to ensure good crops. Omission of the 
pana would be regarded by the paddy spirit as an act of 
disrespect to its ancestor, and would lead to a failure of the 
crop. Both Lakhers and Lusheis have curious stories about 
paddy. Lusheis say that paddy is found in the hollow stem 
of luang (Erianthus longisetosus, Anders) or in hollow bamboos 
or trees. Khamliena's villagers say that they obtained it from 
the first source in 1919. Dorawta's villagers say that they 
found it in a hollow tree. The Lakher villagers of Thiahra 
Amongbeu say that it was found in a hollow bamboo, felled 
by one Chalua while cutting his jhum about six or seven 
years ago ; the seed was planted and germinated, and it is 
still being grown. The paddy found in hollow trees might 
easily be due to seed having been taken there by rats. It 
is less easy to account for the seed found inside growing 
bamboos and luang grass. 1 


Again, when the first bee's nest is taken after the sowing 
of the paddy the whole village is pana for one day. This 
pana is called Akheideu. The belief is that when the bees 

1 This story of paddy or, in the Angami version, cooked rice, is found in 
the Naga Hills. The Naked Rengma village of Sahunyu (" Sohemi ") 
ascribes the selection of its site as due to the finding of rice in a bamboo 
by a benighted hunting party from Tsaminu, and the site of Kijimatuma 
was similarly chosen by a party of Angami from Zhotsoma. The Dusun 
of British North Borneo have the same tale. J. H. H. 

2 a 


have left their hive, the hive becomes empty and dry, so 
the paddy may dry up in the same way if honey and wax 
are removed from a hive before the paddy is ripe, unless a 
pana is observed. 

In addition to this, any one taking a bee's nest between 
the sowing and the ripening of the crop is not allowed to 
visit his own or any one else's field on the same day, as it is 
believed that if he does so the paddy will dry up. Any 
one going to another man's field on the same day that he has 
taken wax or honey is fined a fowl for a sacrifice to the paddy 

Other Anas Relating to Paddy. 

It is ana to roast crabs, prawns and nghavok, which is a 
fish with very few bones, in a field-house at any time between 
the sowing of the paddy and the harvest. It is not ana 
if the fish are boiled. The belief is that when fish are roasted 
they become quite dried up, and that if this is done in a field- 
house the paddy will dry up in the same way. If any one 
roasts fish in another man's field-house he is fined a fowl. 
The Lusheis have the same custom. 

It is ana for a woman during her menstrual flow to wash 
her skirt near the field and to hang it up on the field-house 
to dry, as it is said to cause the paddy to dry up. 1 If this 
offence is committed, the offender is fined a black hen, which 
is sacrificed to the spirit of the paddy by the owners of the 
neighbouring fields. In Savang and in Chapi no ana attaches 
to this. 

The belief in the danger of giving paddy away at certain 
seasons is demonstrated by the ana called Lachho Chate Ana, 
which means the ana on giving cooked rice. 

During the time that the ears of paddy are being removed 
from the straw it is ana to take cooked rice wrapped up in a 
plaintain leaf to eat on a journey, or to give rice in this way 
to any stranger on a journey. The belief is that if cooked 
rice is taken on a journey at this particular time the spirit 
of the paddy goes with it and is given away to strangers, 

1 Cf. the Lushei custom of Puanfen Zar, Parry, Lushai Customs and 
Ceremonies, pp. 54, 56. N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 451 

and that the crop will be bad. It is also ana for a Lakher 
to take a midday meal during the time the ears of paddy are 
being gathered from the straw, as they are afraid that if they 
eat their ordinary midday meal in the jhum at this time they 
will eat and destroy the spirit of the paddy. It is also ana 
to take any fire, water or articles of domestic use out of the 
house while the paddy is being threshed, as it is believed 
that the spirit of the paddy will go with them. 


When any one kills a mithun or bullock, the village is 
pana on the day the animal is killed. No work may be done 
in the fields, and the women may not weave. The same pana 
takes place if a mithun is killed by a tiger, and the villagers 
bring the meat into the village to eat. If the meat is not 
brought in, there is no pana. It is believed that if this 
pana is not observed the houses will be blown down by a 
hurricane, and that the rice will be blown down or will dry up. 

Mithun and cows are the largest and most valuable animals 
kept by men, and have the loudest voice, and when they 
breathe their breath is like the wind ; hence, when one of 
these animals is killed, the wind will punish the village where 
it has been killed unless a pana is held to appease the mithun' s 
soul and prevent it from calling the wind. Hu is the noise 
made by a mithun breathing, hence Sahu. 

It is ana to cut tree or bamboo stumps in a field of growing 
rice before all the rice has been harvested, as it is feared that 
if this were done the paddy spirit, who is always present in 
rice-fields, might accidentally get cut and injured, which 
would result in the crop getting spoilt. A breach of this 
ana in another's field entails a fine of a fowl to the owner of 
the field, to enable him to offer it to the paddy spirit, and 
so avert misfortune. There is no objection to lifting and 
carrying away fallen branches or logs, but standing stumps 
must not be cut. 

Ana to Shift Boundary of Field. 

It is ana to shift the boundary of a man's field, or while 
weeding to throw weeds into a man's field, as it is regarded 


as very unlucky for the owner of the field into which weeds 
have been thrown or the boundary of which has been dis- 
placed. In some villages a fine is inflicted on the person 
who shifted the boundary. Thus in Siaha a man who shifts 
the boundary of another's field is fined a cock, and if the 
man whose boundary was shifted dies within the year, the 
person who shifted the boundary is liable to a fine of a gong 
of seven spans. 

Leu Ckahi. 

It is very unlucky for any one to have his field enclosed 
on two sides by two fields belonging to another man. If 
when two people have adjoining fields one of them makes 
another field on the far side of his neighbour's it is ana, 
and the man who made the extra field is liable to pay a fine, 
which is usually a pig to the person whose field he enclosed. 
If during the year the person whose field was enclosed dies, 
the death price or luteu of 100 rupees is payable to the 
deceased's relatives. The idea is that when a field is thus 
enclosed on two sides, the soul of the man whose field has 
been enclosed gets caught between the two enclosing fields, 
as though by a pair of pincers, and that this man whose soul 
has been caught will die. 

The Tisi people told me that one Laipang enclosed Theusai's 
field. Theusai's daughter Vianeu died. Theusai complained 
to the chief, who fined Laipang a pig for riha, a pot of sahma 
for bupa, and a vopia. If Theusai had complained to the 
chief as soon as Laipang enclosed his field, Laipang would 
have been forbidden to do so, and if he had disobeyed the 
order, and a death had occurred in consequence, he would 
have been fined a mithun and a vopia. 

Ceremonies connected with Bain. 

A people depending entirely on agriculture naturally 
attaches great importance to timely rains, so it is not sur- 
prising that the Lakhers perform ceremonies both to call rain 
in a time of drought and to restrain an excessive rainfall. 

At the first fall of rain that occurs after the harvest has 

iv RELIGION 453 

been completely gathered in there is always a pana of one 
day, called Khisupana, on which no work may be done in 
the fields and the women may neither spin nor weave. The 
pana is intended to call more rain and is a mark of respect 
to the rain spirit. The Lakhers believe that if they are not 
pana on this occasion the rainfall will be small and the crops 

Calling rain is known in Lakher as Khiti Awna, and there 
are several different methods. In Saiko, a chosen man is 
sent out to fetch a stalk of wild cardamum (Amomum deal- 
batum). The cardamum stalk is planted in the village street, 
and the man who brought it rubs it up and down with his 
hand. When rubbed, the cardamum stalk makes a noise 
" Vut, vut, vut" which the Lakhers say resembles thunder, 
and while the man who is performing the ceremony is rubbing 
the stalk another man pours a bamboo tube full of water 
over his back. The water resembles rain, and, incidentally, 
running down the cardamum stalk helps to increase the 
noise of the thunder. The day on which this ceremony is 
performed the whole village is pana. Another method used 
in Siaha and also in Saiko is as follows. An eel is caught 
and its head is cut off and fixed to a pole planted on the 
roadside and pointed to the sky. Water is poured on to the 
eel, and also on to the person holding it up to the sky. As 
the eel lives in water, it is believed that when it is killed its 
spirit becomes very thirsty, and if its head is pointed up at 
the sky in this way, the spirit of the eel is sure to bring rain. 
The day of the ceremony is pana. 

In Savang if drought is threatened the villagers go down 
to the Tisi river. They find a stone with a large hole in its 
top which contains water, bale all the water out, and then 
sacrifice a fowl near the stone, and place the phavaw, con- 
sisting of its tongue and tail, inside the hole. The fowl is 
then cooked, and a little of its liver and meat are placed 
inside the hole, and the rest of it is eaten. It is thought 
that the spirit who lives in the hollow stone will call down 
rain to fill its home with water again. Having eaten the 
chicken, they all go home, and the rest of the day is pana. 
After a few days the stone is inspected, and if it has filled 


up with water and small fish are swimming about, the omen 
is favourable and good crops are expected ; if, however, 
the stone fails to fill up with water, it is believed that a 
drought will occur. Stones with large holes in the top are 
believed by all Lakhers to be the abodes of spirits ; but it 
is only the Zeuhnang of Savang who believe that these 
spirits have power over rain. The Ao Nagas also believe 
that stones can influence the weather. 1 

In the Kawlchaw river there is a deep pool called Siataw, 
with overhanging precipices. The Lakhers believe that if 
fish are poisoned in this pool rain will fall, as the spirit of 
of the pool gets annoyed when the fish in his pool are poisoned. 
In time of drought the Saiko people poison the pool in hopes 
of rain. The belief that the poisoning of fish in a pool will 
bring rain is also found among the Aos. 2 

In Chapi they call the rain more directly. A white cock 
is sacrificed outside the village and a prayer is offered up, 
" Rain, we call you with this white cock. The paddy, the 
bal and other vegetables need you, rain." The day 
of the sacrifice is pana. This is a purely devotional method 
of calling rain, as opposed to the magical methods followed 
in the other villages. 


If there is fear that the rains may be excessive and spoil 
the crops, bamboo arrows are made pointed with solder, 
and fired off at the sky. The belief is that, as the solder 
is white, the white-headed arrows will cause the sky to 
clear and become white also, and the rain will cease. In 
Savang there is a pana of one day, and women must not 
touch cotton. In Chapi only the man who fired the arrows 
is pana for one day. In Saiko the women may not touch 

A more unpleasant method sometimes resorted to in order 
to stop the rain is for the people to spit in the direction from 
which the rain is coming. 

No ceremony is performed to ward off hailstorms, pre- 

1 J. P. Mills, The Ao Nagas, p. 131. N. E. P. 
8 Idem, ibid.N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 455 

sumably because hailstorms generally come when there are 
no growing crops, and so do little or no damage. 

Ceremonies connected with Sickness. 

Sickness is caused by the leurahripax, and practically the 
only means of averting or curing sickness is by performing 
the appropriate sacrifices and ceremonies. Ceremonies 
intended to ward off sickness are of two kinds : those per- 
formed on behalf of the whole village, and those performed 
by individuals. The Khisongbo and Tleulia sacrifices, which 
have already been described, really fall into the first category, 
as they are intended, among other things, to make the people 
healthy. When, however, there is fear of a definite epidemic, 
another ceremony, called Tlaraipasi, is performed. 


Tlaraipasi is a ceremony solely intended to stop an 
epidemic from entering a village, and is performed whenever 
neighbouring villages are afflicted, in the hope of keeping out 
the disease. The manner of its performance varies. In Tisi 
and the other Hawthai villages, as soon as it is heard that 
an epidemic is raging in a neighbouring village, the chief and 
elders fix a day for holding Tlaraipasi. The inmates of each 
house make small bamboo baskets and fill them with samples 
of every kind of food. At one end of the village a small 
bamboo fence is erected with a bamboo archway which spans 
the road. The baskets of food are placed outside this fence. 
The people then all go inside their houses and shut the doors. 
Meanwhile some of the young men have been sent out to 
shoot a gibbon (Hylobates Hooluck). As soon as they have 
bagged one they bring it to the village, and on the way they 
collect a quantity of pebbles. When they reach the village 
they sacrifice a fowl on the pebbles, and sprinkle the 
pebbles with its blood. Then one man carries in the gibbon 
and another man picks up the pebbles, and they enter the 
village, shouting out to the spirit of the disease, " Go away, 
stranger.'' * The gibbon is carried right through the 

i Cf. The Khumi cure for small-pox, Lewin, Wild Races of South-eastern 
India, p. 226. N. E. P. 


village, and the man with the pebbles throws a few of them 
against each house, in order to chase out the spirit of the 
disease. When they reach the farther end of the village, 
where the fence and arch have been erected over the road, 
the gibbon is hung up over the arch. The fowl that was 
sacrificed is placed beside the baskets of food, and the 
villagers all go and spit and blow their noses into the baskets. 
The village is pana for the day of sacrifice, and no strangers 
may come in. Bunches of leaves are stuck on the paths 
leading to the village, and a byway is made to enable 
travellers to pass. 

In Saiko and the other Tlongsai villages, a similar sacrifice 
is performed with either a hooluck or a dog. Each house- 
holder hands over his small basket of food to the young men 
who come to collect it, and spits into it as he hands it over. 
No pebbles are used. A hooluck is preferred to a dog, as 
the spirit of disease fears it more. 

In Savang the sacrifice is called Tlahri. A fence is put up 
to stop the disease coming in. Baskets containing an egg 
and other edibles are placed outside the fence. A dog and 
a fowl are killed by having their throats cut, and are left on 
the place at which they were killed for the disease to eat. The 
dog's intestines are taken out and stretched between the fence 
posts, so as to make an arch over the roadway. The villagers 
apostrophise the spirit of the disease, saying, " Raitla kola, 
Laku kola, Tisi suala, naki dila, naro dila, naerai pahneu, 
navei rai pahneu." (" Go over the Kaitla and Laku moun- 
tains, go to the mouth of the Tisi river, go to your home. 
Here there is a smell of human excrement and wind.") They 
then all spit into the baskets. The village is pana for the 
day. In Chapi also a dog and a fowl are sacrificed, the 
baskets are filled with flour, charcoal and cotton wool, and 
the villagers call upon the disease to go away, and spit into 
the basket. 

This sacrifice is both minatory and propitiatory. The 
gibbon is put up to frighten away the disease, and the 
spitting into the baskets is done with the same object. The 
Savang people further try to frighten away the disease by 
telling it what an unpleasant place their village is. The food 

iv RELIGION 457 

in the baskets and the offerings of a fowl and a dog are 
intended to please the spirit of the disease and induce it to 
spare the village. 

All evil spirits are supposed to be afraid of gibbons, and 
many Lakhers wear bracelets made of gibbons' bones to 
prevent rheumatism, to make them healthy and to keep 
away magic. Where gibbons are found there is said to be 
no small-pox, and actually they say that there has never 
been any small-pox in the Lakher country. There have, 
however, been bad epidemics in Lushei villages, where gibbons 
are just as common. When there is no moon, gibbons are 
said not to call in the daytime, but as soon as the moon 
reappears they start shouting again. Lusheis say that if 
gibbons call at night it forebodes a death. They regard the 
gibbon as an unlucky animal, and formerly used never to 
shoot them, as they feared to be haunted by their ghosts. 

Sacrifices very similar to the Lakher Tlaraipasi are per- 
formed by the Rabhas, a Bodo tribe inhabiting the foothills 
of the Garo Hill district. These people erect fences and 
arches on the roads leading into the village. From the 
centre of each arch a small stick is suspended to strike down 
the disease spirit if it tries to fly through, while on the ground 
traps are set to catch it, if it tries to crawl through. A 
chicken is sacrificed, but a pig's basket is hung on the arch 
to show the disease spirit that if it leaves the village alone a 
pig will be sacrificed to it later on. If the village escapes 
an epidemic, this promise is duly honoured. 

Individual Sacrifices. 

Parihrisang is a sacrifice performed for any one suffering 
from swellings, sores or sore throat, which are thought to be 
due to a snake having been killed in a rat-trap set by the 
sick man or one of his family, or to one of the family having 
killed a snake in some other way. Snakes have the power 
of causing disease, which is known as hri, Lakhers are there- 
fore very much afraid of snakes, and kill them only when 
forced to do so in self-defence. If it is known that a snake 
has actually been caught in the sick man's rat-trap or killed 
by one of his family, the sacrifice must be held at the place 


where the snake was killed. If it is only suspected that the 
killing of a snake has been the cause of the disease, the 
sacrifice is offered outside the village by the side of the path. 
Small earthen images of men, mithun, cows, lizards, tortoises, 
brass basins, gongs andpumtek beads are prepared and placed 
in an old basket. A snake is fashioned out of a piece of 
bamboo by cutting the surface of the bamboo to represent 
the snake's markings. The sacrificer ties a string round the 
neck of the bamboo snake and goes out to the place of 
sacrifice, holding the basket of clay images in one hand and 
dragging the snake along behind him. The idea is that the 
soul of the dead snake will follow the bamboo snake as it is 
dragged along the ground, and when it reaches the place 
where the sacrifice is held will see all the clay figures and, 
thinking them real, will accept them instead of the sick man, 
who will then recover. The basket is placed on the edge of 
the road with the bamboo snake lying near it. A bamboo 
beer cup filled with sand to represent beer, with a reed to 
suck through, is placed near the basket, and also an old pig's 
skull. A small bamboo railing is erected, and a piece of old 
cloth hung over it. A dog and a fowl are killed by cutting 
their throats, and the images are sprinkled with their blood, 
after which the sacrificer, who is always the eldest member 
of the sick man's family, returns home, leaving the dog and 
fowl on the place of sacrifice. The animals offered at this 
sacrifice are never eaten, as if the meat is eaten and only a 
little is left for the snake, the snake will think that he is 
being given only the remnants of the food, and will be dis- 
pleased. On getting back to his house, the sacrificer must 
erect crossed bamboos in front of it to prevent any one 
coming in, and if the sacrifice was held in the morning, is 
pana till the stars come out, or if in the evening, till dawn 
next day. If during the pana any one of the sacrificer's 
family goes out and enters another person's house, it is ana 
or unlucky for the person whose house is entered, and he can 
claim a fowl. If this fine is not paid, and the man whose 
house was entered falls ill with sores or dropsy or a bad 
throat and dies within the year, the person who broke the 
aoh must pay a gong of seven spans to the man whose house 

iv RELIGION 459 

he entered and a vopia to the villagers. If any one enters 
the sacrificed house during the pana, it is ana for the man 
who enters, and he will become ill. The crossed bamboos are 
erected to prevent people coming in, but if any one dis- 
regards this and enters, the sacrificer will indicate by signs 
that he is pana, but he may not speak. 

The name Parihri covers cobras, hamadryads, pythons 
and all the larger snakes, all of which are believed to have a 
hri, or the property of causing sickness. The hri is so deadly 
that when passing the clay images used for an old sacrifice 
Lakhers carefully avoid touching them lest they should 
fall ill. 

The Sabeu use only eggs for the sacrifice, they observe 
no pana, but do not go to the place of sacrifice the day after 
the ceremony. Among the Hawthais the ritual is more 
elaborate. In addition to the ceremonies and sacrifice 
already described, a small rat-trap is made on the verandah 
of the sick man's house. Near it are placed a dao and an 
old earthen pot. Having made these, the sacrificer goes 
outside the village and lights a fire, so that if the sick man's 
soul has been taken some distance away it may see the smoke 
and return to its home. He then lays down the clay models 
and other articles as before, kills a small fowl, which he 
leaves where he killed it, and returns to the village, taking 
with him two small pebbles. Before entering the sick man's 
house he stops on the ladder and calls out to the sick man, 
" Has your spirit returned to you ? " The sick man replies, 
" It has returned." The sacrificer and his companions then 
enter the house and shut the door. The idea is that while 
they are inside the house with the door shut a snake may 
come and get crushed in the rat-trap, cut by the dao and 
cooked in the earthen pot, the rat-trap, dao and earthen 
pot having been made in case the snake should refuse the 
sacrifice and try to re-enter the house. The two pebbles are 
placed on the floor of the house, and another fowl is sacrificed 
on them to prevent the sick man's soul from going outside 
the house again. The two pebbles represent the sick man's 
soul, which is brought back into the house again, and to 
which a fowl is sacrificed to induce it to remain. The meat 


of this fowl is cooked and eaten by the sacrificer, the sick 
man and their families. The phavaw are put out on the place 
of sacrifice. The day of the sacrifice only is pana. The use 
of pebbles to represent the soul of the sick man is common 
among the Lakhers. 1 


Chawngva is a sacrifice to the sky and the hills, which is 
performed as a cure for any trifling illness. A model house 
is made and fixed on to the roof of the house above the door- 
way, and inside this model house are placed flour and raw 
cotton. Cotton threads are let down from the model house 
into the doorway of the house and right through the house 
to the main post at the back, to which they are tied. A 
fowl is taken up on to the roof, and some of its feathers are 
pulled out and placed in the model house. The fowl is killed 
on the roof, and its raw phavaw are placed in the model 
house, the cooked phavaw being added later. As soon as 
the fowl has been slain, the sacrificer ties some blunt-headed 
arrows (zawnga) with feathers from the sacrifice, and fires 
one at the sky, one towards the water supply, one towards 
the jhums, one towards the hills in fact, in whatever 
direction they think that the sick man's soul may be wander- 
ing, in order to call it back. The sacrificer goes down into 
the house, and the fowl is cooked and eaten. There is a 
pana till all the meat has been consumed. 

The idea is that the sick man's soul will follow the flight 
of the arrows fired to recall it, and so return home. The 
little house on the roof is to receive it if it comes down from 
the sky, in case it has been detained there by Khazangpa. 
After resting a while in the model house, the soul is believed 
to follow the cotton threads down into the house, and so 
back to its owner. If the soul has been detained in the fields 
or the woods, it does not go into the model house on the roof, 

1 Cf. W. O. Krohn, In Borneo Jungles, p. 174. Pebbles are also used by 
the Dyaks to represent the soul. N. E. P. 

A Thado who wishes to break a tabu on leaving the village will put up 
a small waterworn stone to observe the tabu while he goes out. Probably 
this use of a pebble to represent a soul is in origin the provision of a 
habitation for it. J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 461 

but enters the house direct. There is a pana till after the 
meat has been all consumed. Such is the ceremony as per- 
formed by the Tlongsai. 

The Sabeu and Hawthai vary the ceremony. Eight 
arrows tied with feathers from the sacrifice are fired off 
towards the sky and the neighbouring Khisongs. The soul 
comes and settles in the model house, and is assisted to 
return to its owner by lowering two small pebbles repre- 
senting it in a leaf-basket slowly down to the door of the 
house, whence the soul finds its way along the cotton threads 
to the sick bed where its owner is lying. The pebbles must 
be lowered very gently from the roof, lest the soul should be 
frightened and go away again. The fowl is sacrificed at 
the foot of the back post of the house to which the guiding 
threads have been tied, and its phavaw are laid out at the 
same place. On the day of the sacrifice the household is 
pana. The Zeuhnang perform a sacrifice called Pachhuahli, 
similar to the Tlongsai Chawngva. In the Garo village of 
Simsanggiri, I found a sacrifice called Budawe very similar 
to Chawngva. The model house for the spirit to enter is 
erected on the ground ; the spirit climbs into it by a ladder, 
rests in it, and then proceeds along a cane rope to the sick 
man's house, which in this case was about a hundred yards 
off. A fowl is sacrificed to the mite, the Garo equivalent of a 
leurahripa, to induce him to release the sick man's soul. 


This sacrifice is performed to cure any one suffering from 
consumption. Two chestnut saplings are cut ; one is 
stripped, of its leaves, while the leaves are allowed to remain 
on the other. Chestnut wood is used, as it is very strong, 
and it is hoped that the sick man will consequently get strong 
also. The leafy sapling is planted in front of the house, 
and to steady it one end of the other sapling is tied to its top 
and the other end is pushed into the roof of the house. The 
sick man stands holding on to the chestnut sapling, and his 
father or elder brother, after praying that the sick man may 
grow strong like the chestnut tree, sacrifices a red cock or a 
pig. Some flour is placed at the foot of the sapling, and 


blood from the animal sacrificed is poured on to it ; the fowl's 
tongue and tail feathers are laid on the flour, or if a pig was 
killed, the usual pig's phavaw are laid there. If a fowl was 
sacrificed, its wings are tied on to the upright chestnut 
sapling, if a pig, its penis and bladder are hung on it, and its 
head is hung under the roof of the house on the horizontal 
sapling, which joins the upright sapling to the house. The 
sick man's right big toe is anointed with the blood of the 
sacrifice. The meat is then eaten, and for the rest of the 
day the inmates of the house are strictly pana ; they may not 
leave the house, and no one may enter it. None of the 
inmates of the house may roast anything at the fire till the 
new moon has risen. The patient for whom the sacrifice 
was made is not allowed to visit any house where a death 
has taken place, nor to eat the meat of any animal that was 
carrying young when killed, nor of any animal which has 
been killed by tigers or wild dogs until a month after the 
sacrifice. If a fowl was sacrificed, he may not eat the meat 
of any bird ; if a pig was sacrificed, he may not eat the meat 
of any animal with a tail. It is ana for the patient to eat 
any of such meat, and if he breaks the prohibition, the 
sacrifice will be of no avail, as the hri or evil spirit which 
causes the disease dislikes the meat of animals carrying 
young or of animals that have been killed by tigers or wild 
dogs, and also disapproves of the patient eating any meat 
of the same kind as the meat offered in sacrifice before one 
month has elapsed, and will accordingly make the patient 
suffer more if he fails to observe the prohibition. Again, if 
the patient goes to a wake, they fear that he will die like the 
man whose wake he attends, 


A person is said to be ahmaw l when his spirit has the 
power of entering into another person's body and causing 
severe stomach-ache. It is impossible to translate the term 
accurately ; it approximates to the evil eye, but is not 

1 Cf. W. Shaw, Notes on the Thadou Kukis, and Dr. Mutton's note on 
vampires at p. 155. The Thado kaushi seems to be very similar to ahmaw. 
The Lushei Khawhring, too, is similar. See p. 18 of my Lushai Customs 
and Ceremonies, N. E. P. 

iv RELIGION 463 

exactly the same. The belief is that a person who is ahmaw 
is always of an envious nature, and when he sees any one 
else possessed of cloths or other property that he would like 
himself, he becomes very envious, and sends his spirit into 
the body of the person whose property he envies, and at 
once causes most violent stomach-ache, which on occasions 
is believed to have resulted in death. An ahmaw, in fact, is 
a sort of vampire soul, which, on seeing any one prosperous 
and happy, tries to get hold of the property of the person 
he envies by entering his body and making him ill, in 
the hope that the sick man will then make offerings to him. 
Ahmaw is greatly feared, and to accuse any one of being 
ahmaw is very serious defamation. The fine for falsely 
accusing any one of being ahmaw is a cow mithun or 60 
rupees. Any one who is ahmaw is unclean ; and if a woman 
is believed to be ahmaw, nobody will marry her. 

When any one has been attacked by an ahmaw, a little 
meat, rice, salt, chilis, beer, tobacco, nicotine-water, bananas 
and other edibles are placed in a gourd spoon, and one of 
his relations takes the spoon up to the sick man, who spits 
into it. The spoon is then placed on the threshold for a 
short while, thence it is removed a little farther and placed 
at the foot of the ladder leading up to the house. The idea 
is that the sick man spits out the ahmaw into the spoon, and 
that the ahmaw, finding plenty to eat in the spoon, remains 
there, and can thus be removed from the house. It the 
ahmaw refuses to be tempted out of his victim by the offer 
of food, a fowl is sacrificed and cooked. It is then cut in 
half, and the half with the head, with some gravy, salt and 
rice, is placed on a plate for the ahmaw. The other half is 
eaten by the sick man's family. The ahmaw 's share is taken 
up to the sick man, who spits into it as before, after which 
the plate is placed on the threshold of the house for a short 
time and then taken away and lett outside the village fence. 
If the patient still fails to respond to treatment, a small pig 
is killed and singed. It is then cut in half, the half with 
the head is set aside on the verandah, and the tail end and 
the intestines are cooked. When it is ready, the children 
are given a little to eat, and the rest of the cooked meat is 


put on a plate. Meanwhile men's and women's cloths, 
ornaments and property of all kinds are collected. As they 
do not know whether the ahmaw is the spirit of a man or of 
a woman, it is necessary to display both men's and women's 
property. Then the plate of cooked meat is taken to the 
patient, followed by the plate of raw meat and the cloths 
and ornaments, and the patient's relation says, " See, we 
offer you cooked meat to eat here, raw meat to take away 
with you, and cloths and ornaments. Now go away oh, 
ahmaw, and let the sick man recover." The patient spits 
into each plate and on to the cloths ; they are placed 
on the threshold of the house for a short time, and then 
taken outside the village fence. After leaving the cloths 
outside for a time, they say, " The ahmaw has now had 
time to take the cloths," and carry them back to the village. 
The plates of meat are left outside the fence. If the ahmaw 
still refuses to be bribed to leave the sick man's body, a 
little blood is drawn with a needle from the big toe of 
one of those present, smeared on a bit of stick and offered 
to the ahmaw. The patient licks some of the blood off 
the stick, and the following invocation is made : " 0, 
Ahmaw ! we have offered you everything you want, and 
still you are not satisfied, so now we offer you human blood, 
which is what you most desire." This is said to be an 
infallible cure for stomach ache caused by an ahmaw, and is 
the only Lakher sacrifice in which human blood is used. 

The only way by which an ahmaw can be recognised is by 
dreams. 1 If, whenever people in a village get stomach-aches 
they find that they all dream of the same person, it is certain 
that the person so dreamt of is ahmaw and the cause of the 
stomach-aches. Once an ahmaw has been definitely recog- 
nised in this way, the meat from the sacrifices is placed on 
the ground close to the verandah of the person believed to be 

Black magic, which is known as deu, 2 or in Savang as 
thaihna, is also much feared by the Lakhers, who say that 

1 Is there any etymological connection between Lakher ahmaw and 
Sema Naga awow= dream ? J. H. H. 
* Thado doi. J. H. H. 

iv RELIGION 465 

though there are no magicians in the Lakher country, there 
are many among the Tlaikopa (Lusheis), Tikupa (Tipperahs), 
Takangpa (Chakmas) and Kalasapa (Hughs). In conse- 
quence, Lakhers are very careful of their behaviour when 
travelling among these peoples. When I first took some of 
the Lakher chiefs into Aijal they absolutely refused to go 
into any of the villages we passed through on the way, or 
to go and dine or drink with any of the Lushei chiefs, though 
they received several invitations, as they were afraid of being 
enchanted. They believe that the magicians put some 
substance, possibly an insect or a small stone, into food or 
drink, and that this eats the internal organs and so causes 
death. The Lusheis in the same way say that though there 
are no Lushei magicians there are many among the Thados. 
Chins also believe in witchcraft and the evil eye, especially 
among people belonging to other tribes. 1 


If a strong and athletic man gets weak and unable to go 
out hunting, and finds it a labour to climb hills that would 
have been nothing to him before, if his hair begins to fall 
out and other signs of premature old age descend upon him, 
he performs a sacrifice called Hmo-Theu. As disease of 
this kind is believed to be due to an ahmaw, the object of 
the sacrifice is to induce the ahmaw to leave the patient's 
body. The sacrifice must be performed by an elderly man 
of robust health, and consists of a fowl and a dog of opposite 
sexes. Before the dog and fowl are killed, the sacrificer 
takes them, together with some weeds called kamakua 
(Smilax prolifera, Roxb.) and pathang (Scleria cochinchinensis, 
Druce) and rubs them up and down the sick man's body, the 
while intoning a chant introducing the names of as many 

1 Of. Lushei dawi, Parry, Lushai Customs and Ceremonies, p. 18. All 
the Lushei Kuki tribes seem to be fond of accusing their neighbours of 
practising wizardry and witchcraft, while maintaining that they themselves 
are guiltless of these practices. Cf. Phayre, " Account of Arakan," 
J.A.S.B., No. 117, 1841, where Phayre reports the Lungkhes and Tseindua 
as saying, " We do not practise witchcraft, but other people around us do." 
Cf. also Carey and Tuck, The Chin Hills, p. 200 ; W. R. Head, Haka Chin 
Customs, p. 44 ; J. Shakespear, The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 110. N. E. P. 

In just the same way the Sema are always accusing the Angami Nagas 
of witchcraft, but I do not think the accusation is reciprocated. J. H. H. 
2 H 


neighbouring villages as he can remember. The village names 
have to be mentioned, as it is not known to what village 
the ahmaw belongs, and his village name must be called out 
to enable him to come and accept the sacrifice. The kamakua 
is used for this sacrifice, as its name conveys the idea of 
" return," and it is hoped that its use will induce the ahmaw 
to return whence it came. Pafhang is used also, as its name 
indicates " shaking," as of a dog shaking itself free of water, 
and it is hoped that it will help the sick man' to shake himself 
free of the ahmaw. The fowl and the dog are sacrificed in 
front of the sick man's house and cooked. When the meat 
is cooked, as there is generally more meat on a dog than the 
family can eat, as many children as there are in the village 
whose mothers are not at the moment pregnant are collected 
and are given the meat left over ; but a hind-leg of the dog 
is reserved for the sacrificer. When the meat is finished in 
the evening, the dog's head, its tail and its four feet, the 
cock's wings, together with the kamakua and pathang, are 
tied on to a bamboo the leaves of which have not been stripped 
off. The sick man comes out in front of the house again, 
and the sacrificer rubs the bamboo with the relics tied to it 
up and down his body, chanting the names of the neighbour- 
ing villages as before. After this the bamboo, with the relics, 
is planted either in front of the sacrificer's house or outside 
the village fence alongside the path. The relics are intended 
for the ahmaw to eat. There is no aoh after this sacrifice. 


If a man who has been out hunting or on a journey falls 
ill, and is still ill when he reaches home, it is believed that 
his spirit has been caught in the jungle, and sacrifices must be 
performed to call it back. Two blunt-headed bamboo arrows 
are made, feathered with the feathers from a white hen, and 
fired off in the direction in which the sick man had been 
travelling. The